Tom Courtney Named President of School Board

By LVUSD Staff
Tom Courtney, one of the most experienced small school district elected officials in the state, was named president of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District’s governing board on Monday, December 9. The vote for Courtney’s appointment was unanimous.
Previously serving as board president for a total of seven years, Courtney was nominated by Jim Harvey, who served as board president for the last eight years. Courtney was first elected more than 25 years ago.
Courtney called Harvey “the best president we’ve ever had” during Monday’s annual reorganization. Jessica Risler was named vice-president and Chelsea LaGrange was appointed clerk of the school board.
Besides guiding the school board through several challenges, Harvey has been instrumental in several key initiatives including a revamping of the district’s board policies and the development of the district’s “Sunshine Policy.”
“I’ve been honored serving you,” Harvey said. “I’ve learned a lot, but I think it’s time we shuffle.”
District Superintendent Peter Livingston commended Harvey for his dedication and leadership. “I just want to thank you, Jim. Great work!”
Livingston also noted that the entire school board is well prepared to assume leadership roles, thanks to all members going through the California School Board Association’s Masters in Governance program. To complete the program, participants must take courses on numerous subjects such as effective governance, policy and judicial review, school finance, human resources issues and community relations and advocacy.
“Anyone can step into that position (board president) at this time,” he said. “The board members all completed Masters in Governance in record time.”


Livingston presented Employee of the Month awards to teacher Victoria Kessler and technology specialist Jason Hart.
Kessler currently teaches the district’s alternative education program. Over the past several years she has looked for ways to meet all of our students needs and has helped raise the graduation rates for Mountain View, the superintendent said.
“Vickie is willing to go above and beyond in finding solutions for some of our students who are credit deficient and need an alternative setting,” the superintendent said. “Vickie also has been a team manager for our Destination Imagination teams that have went to the state competition. Her dedication to our students of Lucerne Valley is recognized and to be commended.”

Hart, Livingston said, was recognized as Classified Employee of the Month due to his steady and constant support as technology specialist.
“Throughout Jason’s 12 years with LVUSD it has become increasingly evident that he takes great pride in his work and ensuring that all needs within his department are met. He doesn’t let any task go undone and promptly rises to any challenges that come his way.”
Recently, according to Livingston, Hart has been successful with the implementation of the website design and keeping the site relevant and engaging. He also called Hart a knowledgeable and trustworthy problem solver.
“Not only is Jason respectful, courteous, and hardworking, but he also graciously and professionally assists within other areas of the office as needed without hesitation. He is always ready to help and share his ideas he is a true team player in every sense of the term. Jason s work ethic is commendable as he consistently goes above and beyond for the betterment of the District.”


The board took action on charter school renewal petitions for Sky Mountain Charter School and Gorman Learning Center San Bernardino/Santa Clarita. After reviewing each school’s presentation material and holding public hearings with lengthy discussions, the board unanimously voted to approve the petitions. The new five-year agreements run through June 30, 2025.
“We are strong in the parent choice for the best school for the child,” board vice-president Jessica Risler, adding that her son flourished when the family enrolled him in a charter school. “Charter schools perform a purpose in a community.”
New School Board President Tom Courtney also expressed confidence in charter schools and gave his strong support to Sky Mountain and Gorman Learning Center. Sky Mountain opened in 1993. Gorman started in 2018.
In other action, the school board voted to approve a contract for On Screen Campaign for the remainder of the school year. The agreement allows for the insertion of promotional videos to appear between movie showings at the Cinemark 16 theater in Victorville and the Cinemark Jess Ranch in Apple Valley.
The board approved up to $45,000 for repairing the Lucerne Valley Middle High School’s gymnasium floor. The Sgt. Brian L. Walker gym was named in honor of the late former student who as a 25-year-old Army sergeant was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2012.
The school board also approved the First Interim Report, which was presented by Chief Business Official Douglas Beaton. The school district is “in satisfactory financial condition” and will be “able to meet its financial obligations for the current year and the subsequent two fiscal years,” according to the report.


The superintendent also said the current enrollment number is 832, which is more than 80 students more than the same time last year. Enrollment has increased almost 20% over the last five years.


Several student presentations also were made during the meeting.
Lucerne Valley Elementary School student Caitlyn Rodriguez, using PowerPoint, talked about many activities going on at the school. They included “Walk Through California,” the recent 5th grade science camp, a fire station field trip, book fair, LVES Booster Club fundraiser, holiday spirit day themes and more.
Middle School ASB President Gabe Castillo gave a presentation that included information about the upcoming holiday celebrations.
Serenity Petroff and Kayden Davis talked about the Middle High School’s AVID program, which included recent a recent student conference in Palm Springs, new AVID sweatshirts and T-shirts with the Japanese word “Kaizen” (“Change for Better”) on the back of each, and an AVID initiative for community involvement.
Lucerne Valley FFA President Katelyn Miller applauded the 63 FFA students who recently earned Greenhand degrees. “It’s the first step of many,” she said.
The next regular meeting of the governing board is scheduled for January 9, 2020.

Teacher Victoria Kessler and technology specialist Jason Hart were named Employees of the Month. Pictured from left are Superintendent Peter Livingston, outgoing board president Jim Harvey, incoming board president Tom Courtney, Victoria Kessler, Jason Hart, board clerk Chelsea LaGrange and board vice-president Jessica Risler.