Volunteers deemed employees for purposes of workers’ compensation 

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

At the top of the meeting, the AG Leadership from Atascadero High School (AHS) FFA gave a presentation that told the trustee board what they’d been up to at the California Mid-State Fair. FFA students participated in the fair with mechanic projects, welding, and showing multiple kinds of livestock. At the end of the FFA students’ 10-minute presentation, the Trustee Board congratulated them on all of their accomplishments, including the speakers.

“I will tell you, being a mid-40-year-old, the lessons that I learned going through that when I was your age, I’ve carried with me through life,” stated trustee Denise McGrew-Kane in her board member report to the students after joking that she was in 4-H herself. “I just wanted to let you know that it might not seem like a big deal right now, but I guarantee you that you guys are learning things that you will carry with you for life.” 


Both the minutes from the Oct. 3 meeting and the Consent Agenda passed unanimously.

Superintendent Tom Butler then introduced the trustee board to the AUSD’s new Atascadero Police Department school resource officer, Tyler Smith.

“I can share with you that he’s come in and done a wonderful job working with us,” Butler said in his introduction. “I really appreciate Officer Smith’s student focus, yet he’s completely dedicated to safety at all of our sites and the city and is also going to do a great job partnering with our rural schools and the Sheriff’s Department. I think we’re in really good hands. I’m excited on how he’s going to help us see things differently, continue to improve our safety practices, and truly be a resource for our students.”

Smith worked for six years in Pismo Beach before making his move to Atascadero. While in Pismo Beach, he served on the Regional S.W.A.T. team and also trains first responders on how to respond to active incidents.

“I’m very glad that you guys have trusted me to protect your students as well as yourself and staff. I take that stuff very seriously,” stated Smith.

He also stressed that things in the AUSD have been going smoothly this school year, which means that he can focus on connecting with students and less on being the person who shows up when something bad happens.

“I’d say 99.9 percent of all the kids I’ve come into contact with have been absolutely phenomenal and extremely respectful, as well as the staff. It’s been a very welcoming position for me,” added Smith.

Additionally, Butler presented the board with a Proposed Board of Trustee Study Session. 

“We would like to offer a specialized study session for the trustees and the community around our college career pathways, including taking a look at dual enrollment, career technical education, and arts pathways,” stated Butler.

The motion passed, and the study session will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 9 a.m.

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services E.J Rossi then gave an information-only Academic Update. He gave an imaginary example of 10 students taking a test two times and said that what you want to see are those students doing better the second time they take the test. He stated that normally, the test scores would be looked at through the lens of how many students were proficient.

“What we also are really more importantly want to start to look at, breaking away from that, is progress. So if we look at this differently, through the lens of progress and how students are growing in their learning, it starts to look different,” stated Rossi. 

Rossi added that looking at test scores through this lens allows us to see that even students under the red line may have grown in their knowledge more so than the students only viewed through the proficiency lens.

Assistant Superintendant of Human Resources Dan Neff presented Resolution #08-23-24 Declaring Volunteers to be Deemed as Employees for the Purposes of Workers Compensation Pursuant to Labor Code Section 3364.5.

“The board should have a resolution to provide workers comp for volunteers if they get injured while they’re performing services for their school,” Neff said. “That’s something we’ve been doing in practice for a long time, but as we, both [Jackie] Martin and I, looked back to see if we had any resolution, we couldn’t find one. It just really formalizes what we’ve been doing in practice for a long time, but it does provide that protection to the district as well as to our volunteers.”

Neff then read the declaration, which passed unanimously. 

The next regularly scheduled AUSD school board meeting will be on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.