Assistant Superintendent Rossi presented a four-year plan to incorporate an “Ethnic Studies”

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, Sep. 7, at 7 p.m. for their regularly scheduled meeting.

Wtih nothing to report from the closed session.

Trustee Terrie Switzer recognized several donations to Atascadero school.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

The Wonderful Company Foundation and Mr. Levi Arzola Nickles donated $1,000 to San Benito Elementary School.

Smith Mechanical Electrical Plumbing donated $3,000 to Atascadero High School to be used for basketball equipment.

The Chamber of Commerce donated $500 to the Atascadero High School Pool Account, the proceeds of which came from the 2019 Wine Fest.

Mr. Charles Taylor donated to the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, and PG&E matched his contribution for a donation of $280.

Oral communications were opened to the public, and one letter was read from an anonymous Atascadero Family requesting that the district encourage administrators to provide as many masks as students need. This was in response to recent communications from Atascadero High School, which, according to the author of this letter, have included requests to use less of the school-provided masks.

“It’s frustrating,” the letter read. “In a time where there is a battle raging about mask effectiveness, mandates, and so much more with COVID, are we really that concerned about students who are complying with the mandate using too many masks, especially when there is COVID funding?”

Superintendent Tom Butler presented the Superintendent’s Report and spoke in regards to the letter.

“We do have a nice inventory currently of that surgical type of mask,” Butler explained. “We did have students who needed quite a few per day, and so we wanted to try to strike a balance for our students; if they were able to be responsible…if they had a personal mask, they could bring it back and forth from school and care for it… but we didn’t want to go into using thousands of masks per day if we could avoid it by just asking the students to participate with us in being responsible to the greatest degree possible… we didn’t mean to be disrespectful in any way, and we are fully in support of providing masks when needed.”

Butler then went on to express his gratitude to the students and for their hard work academically and working on developing citizenship. He also thanked the staff for having “stepped up significantly.”

Butler also shared that he attended Atascadero High School’s first home football game.

“That was a joy,” Butler said, presumably smiling behind his mask. “To see that many people smiling and having a great time, it was practically like a reunion…a piece of Americana.”

Butler then shared the number of students in ACE, which is Atascadero’s independent studies program for TK-12th grade, has 314 students in it today. In the regular education classes, there are about 3400 students attending as of today.

No comparison to last year’s numbers was mentioned. 

Trustee Corrine Kuhnle asked Superintendent Butler how things are going with the outdoor schooling situation, and Butler responded by saying that it is going well. He also shared that they are looking at larger, more permanent shade structures which would be good idea anytime, not just during a COVID situation. He mentioned that other fun ideas are being explored such as having students bring beach towels in order to have class while sitting out on the lawn.

The Board moved on to action items and approved the minutes from two separate meetings, one for Aug. 10 and Aug. 17, both by unanimous vote.

The Consent Agenda was then approved, also by unanimous vote.

The next item on the agenda was the call by Trustee Gunther to nominate Dr. Bettye Lusk as Director-at-Large, African American at California School Boards Association. The nomination was approved unanimously.

Assistant Superintendent Jackie Martin then presented a number of business service matters. The first of which was a resolution establishing the 2020-21 Gann Appropriations Limit Recalculation and 2021-22 Estimated Gann Appropriations Limit Calculation which was approved unanimously.

The next item was the 2020-21 Unaudited Actuals and the 2021-22 Revised Budget, which was approved unanimously. Martin highlighted the state-wide issue of losing funding due to so many families leaving California that she says will have no immediate effect but will begin to impact the budget in 2022. Martin stated that California had lost 160,000 kids when their families moved out of our state.

The next item was a proposed increase to the day rate for Licensed Vocational Nurses in order to bring it to the average rate in an attempt to fill numerous vacancies, and it was approved unanimously.

This was followed by a proposed day rate increase for substitute teachers to $200/day, which was approved unanimously.

Finally, Martin presented the Annual and Five Year Developer Fee Report for the Fiscal Year 2020-21, which was also approved unanimously.

Assistant Superintendent E.J. Rossi then presented a four-year plan to incorporate an “Ethnic Studies” course into the curriculum by the 2024-25 school year. Detailed in Rossi’s presentation were plans to create a committee which will evaluate current options to bring back to the Board for review.

The final item, presented by Assistant Superintendent Curt Eichperger, was a resolution to update the education codes in order to allow teachers to teach a subject outside of their specialty, which was approved unanimously. Detailed report to follow. 

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:07 p.m., and the next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.