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Field Of Dreams - Board Approves School Farm Project
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It was a full house and a packed agenda as the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board convened at the OJUSD Technology Center Monday night, due to a conflicting schedule with Oakdale City Council.

After addressing a variety of issues, the one that brought the most excitement and enthusiasm to the room came in the way of the last line item on the agenda, listed as ‘Possible Action on Development of School Farm on Brady Road.’

“This is certainly not the first time we’ve had discussion on the Farm on Brady Road in the past three years,” Superintendent Marc Malone said to the group.

Malone reviewed the existing 26.51 acre site located on the northwest end of town and its pre-existing easement challenge, which has been addressed and rectified with the help of OID. The property is currently under an agriculture lease through October of 2015.

Malone shared that the lease would not need interruption if the board approved going forward with the School Farm, noting that plans must first be drawn, as well as a review with the county.

“I’m so in favor of this,” Trustee Mike Tozzi stated. “I was one of the ones who went to Merced to tour that school farm.”

“I think it’s a great use of the land,” Trustee Tina Shatswell agreed.

“You are talking to a board that has farming in their lives,” Trustee Barbara Shook said. “We have the land, we have the opportunity, we need to move forward.”

After additional discussion in the way of future potential and what the School Farm could offer the campuses a vote was called. A unanimous vote was given in the way of moving forward with the development of the school farm, as well as use of $25,000 in Developer Fees to draft plans and begin the process.

Other action at the meeting included a closed session prior to the public portion of the meeting, wherein the board addressed two student expulsions, as well as received a labor negotiation update from Assistant Superintendent Terri Taylor.

Decision was made for expulsion of both students for the remainder of the fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters. Names and circumstance were not given due to age and privacy. No action was taken in the way of OTA and CSE negotiations.

In regular session, Anthony Grigsby of World Events Sports addressed the board expressing gratitude and enthusiasm for a newfound partnership. World Events Sports has joined forces with the district, as well as the city in developing sports programs for the community’s youth, helping fill a void due to cuts to Oakdale Parks and Recreation staffing. As a result of the Fall Flag Football activity, World Events Sports presented the board with a check for $1010 to be divided among the four elementary schools.

“We know that these are tough times and are happy to be here to help the community,” Grigsby said.

Student Board member Rachelle Pabalan reported to the board on upcoming campus events including Winter Formal this Saturday, Caroling for Cans as well as past successes. The high school leadership team collected 26 full bags of canned goods as a result of Trick or Treating for cans. Pabalan also reported on the Mustang pride which is alive and well on campus, as many of the campus sports teams continue to have and/or ended their seasons with much success.

On another topic, board members received an update on ‘Career Cruising.’

In keeping with the commitment and alignment with the Common Core State Standards, OJUSD has embraced one of the goals of seeing that students are college and career ready at the conclusion of their high school career. In keeping with that goal, Career Cruising has been put in place to help expose students in grades seven through nine to future interests in the area of both college employment.

Oakdale Junior High seventh grade English teacher Danesa Menge offered a video presentation to the board on what the student explores through the Career Cruising on-line program. She demonstrated an assessment that helps them explore areas which may interest them that they may not have considered.

“I also took the assessment,” Menge stated, “but it did not have me in middle school. It had me in high school, which scares me.”

Menge also told the board she has seen positive effects with her seventh graders as a result of the Career Cruising Program, indicating the eye-opening opportunity it offers the students in the way of opportunity, expense, actual college location and planning in the area of current class selection.

“I think this is great,” trustee Shatswell said, enthusiastic for the addition of the program to the existing curriculum. “This shows the student you can’t wait until tenth grade.”

Superintendent Malone agreed.

“This curriculum is spiraling,” he said of the program, adding that he hopes to see it for grades 10 through 12 as well, so students will know they have options for exploring how to reach their college and career goals.