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Following a special school board meeting Nov. 17, trustees
agreed to appoint a temporary replacement to the vacancy on their
seven-person school board caused by Francisco Dominguez’s
Following a special school board meeting Nov. 17, trustees agreed to appoint a temporary replacement to the vacancy on their seven-person school board caused by Francisco Dominguez’s resignation.

The six trustees also discussed the process that will be used to publicly interview and vote on candidates; one of whom might include longtime educator Sal Tomasello.

A fixture in local schools for 33 years, the former principal of Ascencion Solorsano Middle School said he hasn’t made up his mind to apply, but acknowledged “I’m thinking about it.”

Tomasello was in attendance during the special meeting last Thursday.

The vacancy was left by Dominguez, the embattled former GUSD trustee and sole proprietor of a local consulting company who is facing two separate investigations into alleged embezzlement and grand theft by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Dominguez submitted his official letter of resignation Nov. 9.

Board bylaws mandate that a replacement be secured no later than Jan. 9 – exactly 60 days from when the seat was vacated.

Although Dominguez’s four-year term would have lasted until 2014, the temporary appointee will hold office until the November 2012 elections, at which point he or she may run for the position.

“That’s important for people to know who are considering putting their name in the hat,” reminded GUSD Board President Rhoda Bress. “The last time we had a vacancy, timewise, that wasn’t an issue. But we do have an election in-between.”

While applications are due by 5 p.m. Nov. 30, GUSD trustee Tom Bundros – who said no applications have been submitted as of Monday, pointed out that “typically, we won’t get any until the last day. I hope they come in sooner, but I’m not really expecting them.”

Bress said it’s difficult to gauge how many interested candidates will come forward, but recalled there were six to eight applicants when former trustee TJ Owens suddenly died in October 2005. Prior to Dominguez resigning, the last vacancy occurred in 2010 when trustee Javier Aguirre moved to San Jose, making him ineligible to serve on the board. Trustees then appointed Jaime Rosso, who was elected in 2001, lost his seat in 2008 by six votes and was later appointed to fill Aguirre’s spot in 2010.

When asked what might prompt him to dive back into the education sector after officially retiring last year, Tomasello – who worked as a GUSD teacher and coach since 1978 and also as an athletic director beginning in 1984 for 16 years – said there are a handful of reasons.

One is because “students in this community have been very important to me during my entire educational career,” he replied.

With two grandchildren currently attending Solorsano and one grandchild enrolled at Las Animas Elementary School, “I also have a vested interest,” said Tomasello, a Gilroy High School alumnus whose wife, two children and three siblings also graduated from GHS.

Named the 2010 Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Spice of Life Educator of the Year, Tomasello navigated Solorsano past the 800 Academic Performance Index mark – the goal set for all public schools by the state of California. Under his tenure, Ascension was recognized with the California Title I Academic Achievement Award and the California Distinguished School Award. Tomasello was also named Middle School Principal of the Year for Region 8, Santa Clara County, by the Association of California School Administrators.

Queried as to what he considers the biggest issues facing GUSD, Tomasello underlined the continued raising of test scores, closing the achievement gap and the impact of state budget cuts on schools.

“For me, it’s the morale of all our employees,” he added. “I’m very concerned about the morale, because they’re the key. They’re the life blood. They’re the connection to our kids in the classroom.”

What GUSD is looking for

Potential candidates interested in taking Dominguez’s place must submit a resume, three letters of references and written responses to the following eight questions, which include:

1. Why are you seeking the school board position?

2. What qualifications do you bring to the school board position?

3. What is the role of a school board?

4. What do you believe are the major issues facing GUSD?

5. What are your ideas about improving academics in GUSD?

6. What is the role of parental involvement and how would you promote it?

7. What is your understanding of the current budget situation for public education in California, and how would you address budget issues as a GUSD trustee?

8. What is your understanding of the facilities program undertaken by GUSD?

Candidate interviews and selection

Each candidate will have a two-minute introduction and opening statement, followed by one question from the board based on the candidate’s application package.

Following this, the community will be allotted 25 minutes for questions.

Questions will be randomly drawn if there are more questions from the public than can be accommodated.

Trustees will then submit in writing to Flores the names of their top two candidates, who will be entered into the second round.

In the second round, 26 minutes will be allocated for community questions.

Following this, each candidate will be given two minutes to offer a closing statement. The board will then make a selection to fill the vacancy by taking a roll call vote.


– To be considered, individuals must submit a resume, threeletters of references and written responses to the eight questions,listed in this story to Deborah A. Flores, Superintendent, GilroyUnified School District, 7810 Arroyo Circle, Gilroy, California95020; or fax to 408-847-4717.
– Timeline: All materials must be received no later than 5 p.m.,Wednesday, Nov. 30. Application packets will be delivered to boardmembers Dec. 2. A public study session to interview candidates andselect a person to fill the vacancy will take place at 6 p.m., Dec.8.
– To qualify: Applicants must live within the jurisdiction of GUSD(either in Gilroy or unincorporated areas of Gilroy) and beeligible to vote. If the candidate selected is a GUSD employee, heor she may not be sworn into office until he or she resigns as anemployee.
– Details: 848-7112.

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