School Board reacts to the enthusiasm and camaraderie of children back in school

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. for their regularly scheduled meeting.

Nicole Hider, the chairperson for Committee for Atascadero Public Schools (CAPS), announced that the organization is raising funds for Atascadero teachers and students with an online auction. A large variety of items are being auctioned off, including wine, home decor, ziplining, kayaking, an escape room, shopping, a Traeger grill, and more. The auction is open now, and the last day to bid is Aug. 22. Visit to browse and bid on items. There are items for all budgets, with the lowest items starting at $15. This year marks the 15th anniversary of this event, and this year’s theme is “Calling All Superheroes.”

The online auction provides grants to individual teachers to supplement their classroom budgets. According to Hider, the grants reach all AUSD students from Pre-K to High School. CAPS operates under the umbrella of the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation.


Next, Director of Curricular Instruction Colleen Madsen was recognized by the board and presented with a certificate for demonstrating excellence in her work in putting together the Atascadero Summer Institute and delivering twelve of the twenty-three sessions put on by the educational services department.

“I appreciate everything you guys are doing to keep us moving forward as a school district,” Madsen told the Trustees. “I feel like I’m trying my hardest to do my part on the other end of it with supporting all the teachers and making sure everybody’s ready and can do their best to help our students. I just really appreciate being a part of this wonderful team.”

Following the presentation was an oral communication of an email addressed to the board and signed by a group of Cayucos residents. The email noted that on Aug. 4, The Cayucos Elementary School District Board of Trustees passed the Let Them Breathe resolution, which removes the mandatory requirements for masks and unnecessary testing. According to, “Let Them Breathe is a quickly growing group of over 12 thousand parents who are concerned about the detrimental effects of masks on their children’s mental, physical, emotional, and social health.”

The letter expressed the group’s disappointment with the passage of the Let Them Breathe resolution and asserted that stakeholders were not given sufficient notice for the meeting, and that limited information was given to parents due to the District website being down. The letter urged all neighboring cities to consider that the Let Them Breathe resolution may impact the health and safety of students.

Superintendent Tom Butler gave his report next, in which he expressed his great pleasure in a very nice start to the school year.

He also issued a correction on a statement he made at the Aug. 10 meeting in which he stated that 7th graders would be able to attend the new student orientation. As it turns out, 7th graders are not able to attend the new student orientation after all.

The trustees gave their reports next, during which the trustees each thanked Nicole Hider and Colleen Madsen for their contributions and accomplishments. 

Trustee Tami Gunther spoke to the excitement and camaraderie between the kids showing livestock and showcasing the industrial arts at the California Mid-state Fair (CMSF) this year.

Trustee Donn Clickard highlighted the book Lighthouse: Weapon of Rescue by Carol Freed Gobler and spoke to the importance of the Lighthouse Foundation.

Trustee Ray Buban personally thanked The Atascadero News for the article on the Aug. 10 school board meeting. “I think they did a very nice, even-handed job, like the newspapers used to do back in the day,” Buban said. “They just gave you the facts. They did it very accurately. It was just very professional, so I would like to thank them personally for a job well done.”

Trustee Corinne Kuhnle thanked all of the parents who had come to the last few meetings, regardless of viewpoint. “Both sides were very passionate, and they were passionate for their children, and I so, so appreciate seeing parents step up to the plate for their children.” She also highlighted the enthusiasm of the kids in the FFA and at the CMSF.

Trustee Terri Switzer stated that she spent time interviewing kids and enjoyed seeing their enthusiasm being back at school. She also highlighted a similar sentiment in regards to the CMSF. She also expressed her excitement regarding outdoor learning settings and suggested constructing any such settings with permanency in mind.

Trustee Mary Kay Mills spoke on the silver linings of COVID, such as developing friendships and our entire community growing closer through working at challenges together.

President George Shoemaker emphasized the importance of CAPS and thanked Nicole Hider. He also highlighted Colleen Madsen’s beaming reputation.

The minutes from the meeting on Jul. 22 were approved unanimously. 

The Consent Calendar was approved unanimously.

Assistant Superintendent Rossi gave a very well-received update on the summer school program, which consisted of a four-week session and served a combined 641 students.

Great Progress was made, and academic growth was measured with impressive results.

Assistant Superintendent Curt Eichperger presented the board with the hiring challenges due to the shortages present, though certainly not limited to education. The proposed reasons for the challenges spanned from COVID-19 to increased housing prices to a relatively insufficient pay scale when compared with the cost of living in the area.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:15 p.m., and the next meeting will take place on Sep. 7 at 7 p.m.

Notice of correction: The article on Aug. 16 Atascadero Unified School Board Finalize Back to School Plan stated that Trustee Corinne Kuhnle made a comment that Trustee Terri Switzer said. Correction was made online as well.