School Board looks to agendize Mask-Choice conversation

ATASCADERO — Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) met for their regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15. The Board’s 7 p.m. Open Session followed their 6 p.m. Closed Session.

During Recognitions, Shauna Ames, the principal of San Gabriel Elementary School, awarded Special Education teacher Yvette Acord with an award for excellence.

“Yvette has been a beloved special education teacher for over five years, about five years, at San Gabriel and longer throughout the district. She works harder than anyone I know. She has such a demanding job and a large caseload, and she refuses to do anything halfway. She not only meets her legal timeline, she takes meticulous data to show student progress. She also plans engaging and dynamic lessons for the students. She cares so much about the students at San Gabriel she ensures they have lessons that meet their specific, individual needs,” Ames said at the beginning of her speech about Acord. 


Acord went on to thank everyone at San Gabriel for their support, as well as principal Ames for her kind words.

Oral Communication from the Public was spurred by the California indoor mask mandate being dropped today for all vaccinated individuals, excluding a few sectors, including schools. Parent Selena Berry asked the School Board to add a mask choice resolution to the next meeting’s agenda. To have the Board discuss an option that would allow the student’s parents to have a choice. While Trustee Rebekah Koznek agreed that she wanted an agendaized item about mask choice, she added a request that it not be an informational meeting but one where public comment is in place. 

Superintendent Tom Butler said, “We’ve had a couple other requests, so here in the next future board meetings, we’ll be looking to agendize something [so people] can come in and share their views. Looking forward to hearing that.” 

In his Superintendent Report, Butler gave his weekly COVID update. The school district is seeing a positive decline in students and staff testing positive. School staff was testing positive at about 26 persons a week, but in the last two weeks, ten and then eight persons tested positive. Jan. 10 thru Jan. 16, 146 students tested positive. Jan. 17 thru Jan. 23, 93 students tested positive. Jan. 24 thru Jan. 30, 56 students tested positive. Jan. 31 thru Feb.6, 45 students tested positive. Feb.7 thru Feb. 13, 19 students tested positive. “It’s a good sign to see that staff and students are healthy, he added.

Butler then went on to say that on Feb. 14, the state of California gave a mask update for K thru 12 schools.

“At that press conference, The California Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly said, and this is his words now, this is a direct quote. He said, ‘on Feb. 28, we anticipate being able to share what the next period of time will look like, and with some specificity give a date when the masking requirement will move to a recommendation.’ End quote. Those are his words. So what does that mean for the moment? It means right now that that K-12 mask mandate for staff and students, indoors, remains in place,” added Butler.    

Board Members Buban, Kuhnle, Gunther, and Mills, expressed thanks to the parents who spoke at the meeting as well as the parents who wrote in regards to the mask mandates and also expressed that they stand with said parents and hope that the decision on Feb. 28 heads toward more choice.

The Feb. 1 minutes passed unanimously, as did the Consent Agenda. 

The School Board then cast a ballot for the 2022 CSBA Delegate Assembly. Mark Buchman was the only person to put his name forward for the position. The Board unanimously voted for Buchman. 

Then, there was a public hearing on the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Atascadero Unified School District and the California School Employees Association Atascadero Chapter 124. There were no public commenters. 

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Jackie Martin stated that the district had reached an agreement that has been ratified by our local CFBA chapter for a 2.28 percent salary increase and increasing the health insurance by $750 effective next year. The item passed unanimously.

Superintendent Butler then gave an information-only presentation on the Annual Update for the 2021-2022 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). It’s a one-time mid-year report to the Local Governing Board and Educational Partners. The LCAP will be discussed in more detail in upcoming meetings.

Assistant Superintendent, Curt Eichperger presented the Board with Resolution #13-21-22, which is the yearly resolution to release temporary certificated employees, effective at the end of the 21-22 school year. 

Eichperger went on to say that after releasing the employees that they will be attempting to hire back a large number of those same temporary teachers. 

Approval of Resolution #13-21-22 passed unanimously.

The Atascadero Unified School Districts’ next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 1, at 7 p.m.