Teachers address board on the restrictions of multiple media platforms on school property
ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) met for its regularly scheduled trustee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. Trustee member Denise McGrew-Kane was absent from the meeting.
During Oral Communication from the Public, two teachers addressed the trustee board on behalf of AUSD teachers who are frustrated by the fact that multiple tech decisions have been made for classrooms throughout the district without input from teachers.
“In the last three months, we have had three tech platforms removed from our purview: Edpuzzle, YouTube, and Pinterest. I understand and concur with the district’s interest in both not being sued and preventing inappropriate content access in the classroom, but so far, the district’s only solution has been elimination,” stated one teacher from Atascadero High School. “This is neither the best approach nor the only approach. If teachers were involved in the conversation, you would find that there are other equally effective solutions that do not curtail these valuable platforms and do not consequently overburden your teachers.”
According to the teacher, educators have also been blocked from using the three stated media platforms while on school grounds. She stated that she agreed with blocking the students but not the teachers.
Both teachers also stressed how helpful all three platforms are for teaching in the classroom and how they are valuable resources for them on a daily basis. Both teachers stressed that they also understand the goal of protecting students from inappropriate content.
“There’s a lot of complexities we should be considering here. I’m glad that everyone who spoke on this talked about that need for student safety, the Childhood Internet Protection Act,” stated Superintendant Tom Butler. “We know that we have a ability to protect our data, our student’s data, our teacher’s data, the district’s data. How can we use it wisely in instruction and teaching digital literacy? I think it’s a really deep and meaningful conversation. The Technology Committee would be the best avenue to bring the right voices to the table. So I don’t have a solution for you right this moment but can see a good solution coming through having teachers actively involved in that technology committee.”
Both the minutes from the Board School Facilities Bond Study Session on Dec. 12, 2023, the board meeting on Dec. 12, 2023, and the Consent Agenda passed unanimously.
Butler then addressed the trustee board on the State of the District with an information-only overview.
“I always look forward to the State of the District,” he said. “This is my ninth State of the District. They say time flies; I can certify it does when you live in a great community when you’ve got tremendous professionals, both certificated and on the classified side of the house. You have supportive parents. We’re really fortunate. We’ve got a lot of good things happening. We’ve got a lot of things we’re still working on, but it’s always a privilege to present the State of the District to you.”
In the presentation, Butler commented on Student Success, Staff Collaboration and Partnerships, and the district’s involvement with families and community and supporting parents.
The current graduation rate was presented to the board. Atascadero High School came in with a 93.4 percent regular diploma graduation rate, ACE (Independent Studies) with 93.5 percent, Paloma Creek with 76.1 percent, and an overall state average of 86.4 percent.
The state average has dropped slightly, as well as ACE; Butler quoted changes related to virtual work that were allowed during COVID as one of the factors. However, Paloma Creek was slightly up, and AHS has stayed the same for two years in a row.
Current attendance for the 2023-24 school year is 94.50 percent, which is more than the 2022-23 school year, which came in at 93.22 percent.
Butler also addressed the board on a Survey/Community Poll on Feasibility for a Future (Facilities) Bond.
“I think this is a good next step,” he said. “This doesn’t commit you to doing a Facilities Bond. This simply has us doing a survey. Should you choose to do it, then we can get the information about what our community thinks about the facilities bond more broadly. Mr. Scott will also design that survey so we can see if there’s different types of projects that would resonate with our community and if there’s a different capacity of funding that may make sense to the community.”
Putting the survey together and distributing it to the community will cost $15,000.
Board President Terri Switzer stated that she thought that the district should put a list of projects together before sending out the survey. At the same time, trustee Rebekah Koznek noted that due to the economy, she would have a hard time increasing people’s taxes within the district.
After much debate, trustee Matt Pennon made a motion to approve the survey. The motion passed in a four-two vote, with both Switzer and Koznek voting no.
The next regularly scheduled AUSD school board meeting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.