New SUSD trustees sworn in; Flores appointed board president

A different mood filled the Arthur Coleman Jr. Administrative Complex on Wednesday when three new Stockton Unified School District trustees were sworn in to office and took immediate action to appoint AngelAnn Flores, the once-sole opposition to a board supermajority, as board president.

“There’s a lot of hope in the room tonight,” a beaming Board President Flores said.

“Moving forward, we’re going to put our kids first, our district first and stop with the chaos and division,” Flores said.

Former trustees Maria Mendez, Scot McBrian and Zachary Avelar were briefly thanked for their services and exited the room with plaques in hand. Roaring ovations followed as Trustees Donald Donaire, Kennetha Stevens and Sofia Colón were sworn in and took their seats on the dais. The three newcomers and Flores all won their elections in November by at least 20 points.

New SUSD board trustee Donald Donaire hugs a well-wisher after being sworn in at the board meeting on Dec.  13, 2022.

“One point of acknowledgment of past board members I’ll share is I’m glad two of them are gone,” community member Jerry Gonzalez said during public comment. “You’re representing Stockton Unified and the children … you’re also representing the larger community in Stockton. I ask that you keep that in mind and if you have differences, work them out in an adult manner.”

Former board president Cecilia Mendez gave up her center-dais seat to Flores, exchanging for a seat at the far end of the dais in a visual shift in power before a board room packed with Stocktonians. Trustee Ray Zulueta also gave up his chair after Stevens was unanimously voted in as board vice president.

Audience members watch as new trustees are sworn in at the SUSD board meeting on Dec.  13, 2022.

“I’m excited to start the message and the work and I think it begins tonight,” Stevens told The Record.

The new board will be accompanied by a $215 million bond measure approved by 71% of voters despite a scathing San Joaquin County Grand Jury report in June showing financial mismanagement and dysfunction at Stockton Unified.

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“First (priorities) are the grand jury report, making sure we get a handle on what’s happening,” Stevens said. “Looking at the budget, that’s number two … making sure we have support services with our LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) funds, LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) and having a good plan to lead our district forward.”

New SUSD board trustee Kennetha Stevens greets a well-wisher after being sworn in at the board meeting on Dec.  13, 2022.

Flores packed the various board committee seats with the new trustees and herself.

Zulueta was the only other experienced trustee offered a seat, which he accepted for the district’s 3 x 3 Committee. That panel is made up of three representatives each from the city and SUSD to develop and review partnership programs between the two government agencies. The 3 x 3 Committee will be chaired by Colón, who was appointed board clerk on a 6-1 vote; Zulueta voted no.

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