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School Board Cuts Sports Transport $

POSTED July 14, 2009 3:29 p.m.
Student athletes and their families are going to have to reach in their own pockets to pay for transportation to and from sporting events. The Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Directors voted unanimously at the July 13 regular meeting to require student athletes to pay fees for transportation to athletic events. The district made reductions to its expenditures, which includes athletic transportation, in order to balance its budget. The athletic transportation budget line item was brought to an expenditure of $55,000, down from an actual $130,000.
In order to make up that difference, junior high and high school students who participate in extra curricular activities such as sports will be required to pay $75 per sport up to two sports for transport to and from athletic events. No family will pay more than $300 per school year. Parents may also “opt out” and may take their own child to the games themselves.
For students who can’t afford to pay the fee, the district will seek scholarship funds from community organizations. Students who would qualify for the scholarship funds must also be able to qualify for the federal standard of free and reduced lunch. District staff believes there is enough community support to pay for students who can’t afford the fees, and that students won’t miss out on a chance to participate.
Trustee Bill Dyer said that the decision to impose a fee is “a bitter pill to swallow.”
The total potential fees brought in, based on 2008-2009 rosters, will be in the neighborhood of $90,000 that will be earmarked and go into the transportation fund.
In other business, the board approved the request to seek bids for the Oakdale High School aquatic center. The bid process for the aquatic center will take approximately 60 days. Assistant Superintendent for Business Tim Hern expects to bring the bid information before the board at the September meeting. The construction will take between 10 and 12 months to complete. The pool is the final project on the Facilities Master Plan, but is not being paid for with bond money.
The pool is to be a high school competitive pool. It will be seven feet deep for water polo, have a shallow end for swim instruction, and will accommodate up to 15 lanes for competitive swimming at one time. Its dimensions are 25 yards by 37 meters.
“It will be a very nice capstone for our athletics and also our P.E. program,” said Hern.
He added that he does not expect the project to have a negative effect on the district’s cash flow. He also expects the cost for the project to be less than what the architect’s budget was eight months ago of $2.2 million. The district has also been budgeting $45,000 for operation of the pool per year.
“We were very conservative… We were waiting for a favorable bid climate,” added Superintendent Fred Rich.
The high school swim team has been using the city’s pool. Rich said that the city is charging for heating and their heat pumps need replacement. Rich also said that the district has the cash, the state payment, and the incentive to go forward now with the pool.
Hern said that the pool may not be ready for the 2010-2011 water polo season. However, he added that under the best circumstances, the pool could be operational by September 2010.
Also in other business, the trustees approved school breakfast and lunch price increases for the 2009-2010 school year. Due to increased food costs and operating expenses, OJUSD need to raise the cost of full-priced breakfast and lunch meals served through the Food Service program. Reduced price meals will remain at the 2008-2009 rate. Meal rates will be posted on the school district website under the Business Services/Food Services link. Go to www.oakdale.k12.ca.us.
In other business, board President Mike Tozzi reported that Superintendent Fred Rich’s contract has been renewed for an additional year in keeping with his contract language that states that it will extend automatically after receiving a satisfactory or better review. Assistant Superintendents Tim Hern, Barbara Shook, and Marc Malone also had their contracts extended through June 30, 2011 after having received satisfactory or better evaluations.
In public comments, a parent of three students who attend Fair Oaks Elementary School expressed his concern over the police department elimination of crossing guards. His children would have to cross Highway 108 to go to Fair Oaks. He also expressed concern over the traffic congestion at Fair Oaks before and after school. He said that he expects it may get worse because of parents concerned with their children crossing the highway. He was especially concerned at the amount of congestion at the intersection of Lee and Pontiac where vehicles stack up several deep at all four corners and how the safety of walking children could be compromised. There are no crossing guards at those corners.
Superintendent Rich responded that the school district had met with city officials just that morning and discussed the crossing guards issue. Together, they are working on a solution such a securing volunteers to guard the crosswalks to start the school year. At least three guards are needed. A letter is going home to parents this week seeking volunteers. The district is also asking Caltrans for assistance. An update on this issue will be provided at the Aug. 10 meeting.
Also in public comments, trustees Bill Dyer and Mike House separately stood at the podium and formally announced their plans to run for reelection. The two felt they needed to clarify their positions since reports from the previous board meeting stated firm statements weren’t made by the two when trustee Rick W. Jones proclaimed that he was going to run for a board seat again.
Dyer stated he’ll run for one more term and that he recently went to the county offices to collect his paperwork.
“I feel the district, in my opinion, is better off than it has ever been… tremendous strides in all major areas… I’d like to believe that I’m a part of that,” Dyer said.
House has also collected his paperwork and noted that he took his 17-year-old son with him to the county offices to do it.
“I’m as dedicated to education and the Oakdale School District as I’ve ever been… so the team we have in place might continue… We’ve done some really amazing things in this community… I am seeking reelection,” House said.
The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10 at City Council Chambers, 277 No. Second.

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