School board back to work

Meeting covers student achievement and a new name for Del Rio

ATASCADERO — At an upbeat meeting of the Atascadero School District Board of Trustees Aug. 15 following summer recess, attendees gathered outside the district office to recognize the accomplishment of Atascadero High School student Taylor Havemann, who restored a 1951 Oliver Cletrac tractor.

Community members greeted and welcomed back one another and chatted with fresh enthusiasm for the upcoming school season. Midway through the meeting, one board member led the cry, “Who are we?” and the meeting crowd replied in unison, “We are the Greyhounds,” then the lead said, “And they are?” and the people cried a prideful, “Not!”

On the agenda was a presentation on the new Lighthouse Atascadero Mentoring program involving middle and high schoolers, and in other business, the board voted unanimously to change the name of Del Rio Continuation High School to Paloma Creek High School.

The meeting started out cheerfully, with the reminder that CAPS, or the Committee for Atascadero Public Schools, will be holding the 11th Annual Evening for Education on Aug. 26 at the Spring Hill Suites from 5-11 p.m. The catered dinner, silent auction, and no host bar will cost $75 per person and will benefit AUSD educational programs.

The meeting then moved outdoors to the parking lot, where Taylor Havemann, an AHS student, demonstrated his working restoration of a 1951 OC3 Oliver Cletrac tractor, which he may be taking to Pennsylvania to compete in a national competition. Havemann won first place in Industrial Arts at the Mid-State Fair and the board members all took the time to compliment the young man on his dedication of a year-and-a-half to the project, as well as his remarkable speaking ability, and poise. Board members commented on the success of the Atascadero 4-H and FFA members at the Mid-State Fair as well.

A community member and mother of two children in special education at AUSD brought up concerns about special education teachers needing to be properly vetted and certified to avoid detrimental experiences during the school year, and mentioned a special needs child who had a traumatic experience in summer school, who had allegedly been left behind on a field trip. She expressed she would like the board to keep proper vetting in mind moving forward. 

Local resident Howard Gillingham spoke to inform the board that the Lighthouse Atascadero Mentor Program (L.A.M.P) is underway, with funding from the Greyhound Foundation, and in collaboration with the Atascadero Unified School District. The program will be strictly voluntary for both Atascadero High School student mentors and Atascadero Middle School sixth grade students, with the goal of fostering, “a feeling in youth that they are not alone, foster a belief no problem is insurmountable, and with help and support, they can overcome barriers to a healthy life.” Gillingham will act as director, and AMS teacher Julie Davis will act as a supervisor with help from other standout teachers for this bi-monthly hour-long mentorship program. Training, parent communication, and cell phone-free meetings will all be included in the program. Details are still being honed, and board members asked some questions about the structure of the program as it relates to drug and alcohol prevention. A Lighthouse Organic Coffee plaque was presented to Superintendent Thomas Butler in gratitude for his support of the alcohol and drug prevention programs they sponsor.

Butler spoke in support of young Havemann and his tractor, saying his achievement “knocked his socks off,” and went over the overwhelming number of prizes and successes of the Atascadero students at the Mid-State Fair. He mentioned the board retreat this month went well, and the bond projects are coming along and look amazing.

“We’ve got Santa Margarita, the Fine Arts, Atascadero Middle School all coming to completion right now – fantastic,” Butler said, remarking on the Chalk Mountain site as a wise use of resources, the new elementary site’s asphalt work that came about in partnership with Rideshare. He said San Benito Elementary, Santa Rosa Elementary, San Gabriel Elementary and Monterey Road Elementary now have abike tracks with painted lanes and stop signs.

“It will be a nice, tool for our P.E. teachers to really embrace this program, with nice smooth surfaces for our kids to play on,” Butler said, while exhibiting a photo of the Santa Rosa Bike Track, which wraps around the existing basketball court, on the screen.

“We have more big projects ahead of us at the high school, but it’s been a great summer for bond projects,” said Butler, who went on to say he was proud his staff’s summer professional development activities. He said AUSD was the most represented school district at the Next Generation Science Standard Summer Institute (NGSS) in Collaboration with Cal Poly, which ran from June 19-23. A large group of 40 AUSD K-12 teachers attended the conference. 

Jackie Martin, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, gave an update on the 2017-2018 State Budget, stating nothing too big has changed since the budget was approved in June. The gap funding went down “a tad,” but the most significant change was that the “one-time discretionary funding for 2017-18 changed from just over $1 billion to be allocated in May 2019 to $877 million ($147 x 4,430 ADA= $651,210) to be allocated during the 2017-18 school year.”

Martin remarked the enrollment status for 2017 is “overenrolled.”

Assistant Superintendent E.J. Rossi spoke on all the training and orientations AUSD staff attended over the summer with 30 certificated staff attending Kangaroo Technology Camp, 10 teachers attending Atascadero Middle School DROPS Grant Based Learning Training, and an upcoming new teacher orientation, welcoming 22 new teachers. The orientation, happening today, will introduce new teachers to the ‘language and culture’ of the district to help with assimilation.

Human resources has filled 27 new certified staff vacancies within the 68 new hires on staff this year.

The board unanimously approved the request to change the name of Del Rio Continuation School to Paloma Creek High School, after Chris Balogh, Alternative Education Principal, recommended approval to give the students a chance to be free of any sort of stigma associated with the term “Continuation School.” The school will be named after it’s present location instead. The board congratulated Balogh on his work in Sacramento, as well as in the community, to lift the negative connotation associated with ‘Alternative Education,’ and complimented him on becoming an activist for a fair chance for children who have overcome these challenges.

You may contact Reporter Beth Giuffre at [email protected] for questions and/or feedback.

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