Extra- and co-curricular activities expected to return Oct. 5

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees met Tuesday night, covering a broad spectrum of topics from the revised budget and cost of textbooks to the return of extra- and co-curricular activities.

The board meeting opened with 21 different letters to the Board addressing several issues parents and students are having with distance learning, emphasizing reopening schools in the blended model the District presented before the Aug. 12 start date.

“Thanks to all the parents that had their comments read tonight. We really appreciate your input and look forward to continuing to gather that input from all of you,” AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler said at the top of his report. “I want to thank you for continuing to advocate on behalf of your beliefs and your family values.”

The Atascadero superintendent revisited the community’s comments after addressing the return of certain in-person services in his report. Butler covered various topics but began noting that there was a glitch in the most recent parent survey. While the District will not be able to use the data as several people were able to vote more than once, they did receive the comments attached and the requests for additional services and are currently working to help those families. The District will survey the parents again in the future.

Wednesday, AUSD officially began providing in-person services to the most intensive special education students.

“This is a positive step for us and will provide our highest need special education students with the support they need to be successful,” Butler said. “We are glad to start this gradually and will build out to address our most needy students.”

While parents who want in-person teaching and the blended model will have to wait, several in-person activities are on the precipice of returning. Butler continued in his report stating that the District is working with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health for guidance on student cohort groups. AUSD is anticipating an Oct. 5 start date for the return of extra- and co-curricular activities.

“This can include but is not limited to agriculture, the performing arts, and athletics, to name a few,” Butler said. “This same guidance can be applied to academic support and content areas as well as student cohort groups around social and emotional behavioral needs.”

In the final minutes of his presentation, Butler readdressed the concerns around reopening school and closed, saying that Atascadero will be applying for the elementary waiver that allows students from kindergarten to sixth grade to receive in-person instruction.

“The reopening of schools is a complex task, and it must contain a clear and unwavering commitment to the health of the students, staff, and community we serve. I hear from a large number of parents, and there are clearly many family perspectives on this issue,” Butler said. “Currently, we have two educational choices for families. We have independent studies at ACE and distance learning. These are positive choices for families today. However, I believe we need to begin to consider a third choice of the blended in-person model.”

The waiver’s approval is at the discretion of the SLO County Public Health and the County Office of Education. Butler explained the District would bring a completed plan for the elementary waiver application for the Board’s consideration at a future meeting. Should the County Office of Education and AUSD trustees approve the plan, it will then be submitted to the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Office for final approval.

Butler also noted that all three educational options, independent studies, distance learning, and a blended model would be offered to all families.

In an enrollment update, Assistant Superintendent Jackie Martin noted that AUSD was down over 200-plus kids in the new school year, currently sitting at 4,435.

In closing, trustees voted to accept the revised budget and authorized the issuance and sale of 2020 refunding general obligation bonds for refinancing. The Board was presented with three different refinancing models and selected the option that reduces the interest rate from 4.98 percent to 2.65 percent.

The decrease would save taxpayers just over $5 million, around $3 per year reduction per $100,000 of assessed evaluation.

Getting through this together, Atascadero