District reports closing 8 classrooms since November

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District trustees, in their final meeting of 2020, were updated by the District on COVID-19, the budget going forward, and the handful of facilities projects nearing completion.

In an organizational meeting before discussing the agenda, the Board acknowledged outgoing president Donn Clickard and elected George Shoemaker as the president for 2021.

AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler used his report to update the community and trustees on COVID-19 protocols after the brief closing of several classrooms over the past two months.

“I did want to share, in an effort of transparency, that we have had eight classrooms in the District since Nov. 2 that we have moved from in-person to distance learning,” Butler said to the Board. “Four of them happened earlier in that timeframe and are now back in-person. We still have four today that are currently in distance learning, one of those will come back for in-person prior to winter break, and the other three will remain in distance learning.”

The District currently has three nurses certified in contact tracing and continued working with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department to identify all potentially exposed students and staff and keep them quarantined for others’ safety.

“Working closely with Public Health and our nursing staff, we can share right now that there is no evidence in the cases I mentioned of transference happening at the schools,” Butler said. “These have been a small number of community-based cases that have either caused exposure to a family member, with possibly a teacher or a student, but it hasn’t been transmitted on our sites based on the health information.”

Following Board reports, Assistant Superintendent Jackie Martin gave an update on the First Interim Budget Report as of Oct. 31. The budget report shows the District’s ability to meet its 2020-21 financial obligations and subsequent two fiscal years dependent on the level of actual state funding. It is the third year, 2022-23 when the District could face some challenges, but that could change going forward.

Facilities Director Brandt Llyod gave trustees a quick presentation of the improvements nearing completion within the District to close the year’s final meeting.

Lloyd began with San Benito Elementary School, which started its modernization in October of 2019 and expected completion this December. The San Benito site was brought up to compliance with the American Disabilities Act, installing ADA-approved sinks, pathways, restrooms, and parking spots, as well as a new HVAC system.

The next three improvements were at Atascadero High School. The new and improved Black Box Theater, which began in September of 2018, work was done in two phases, the first delivering a music room and the second a full theater with a connected classroom. The 2,250-square-foot theater will also have two ticket windows and risers and is expected to be completed this December.

Also, AHS has some new classrooms available in what used to be considered the C-Wing or Science Department. This project included some of the oldest buildings on campus and required many classrooms to be taken down to studs.

The finished product will include a new athletic training room, a ticket booth for athletics, redesigned restrooms, and more. The project began in June of 2019 and was expected to be complete by March of 2021.

Lloyd also spoke about taking down the B Building, which has been whispered about for over a decade. It would happen in the summer of 2021. Plans for the area are not yet final, but a proposed green area for students was one of the ideas being considered.

The Facilities Director ended his presentation with a brief update on the pool at AHS, claiming that the design stage is nearly finished and expected to be presented to the Board in early January.

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Getting through this together, Atascadero