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School Board Members Get Earful From Public
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Public comments seemed to dominate the agenda at the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees regular meeting on Oct. 14.

There were nearly 30 minutes worth of public comments at the start of the meeting.

In comments, resident Pat Bicknell expressed her concern to the board about Common Core standards. Specifically, the loss of local and parental control in what is taught, and especially of the collection of private data that would be made available to third parties without the knowledge or consent of parents. She said that the board doesn’t have to accept the Common Core standards and that “we as a community can just say no.” She added that parents can opt out of assessments, which also prevents the collection of personal, private data. She noted that she’s very concerned about parents’ general lack of knowledge about Common Core. She said a Notice Of Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy can be obtained on the Pacific Justice Institute website, which includes various types of privacy expectations that can be filled out by parents to give to their child’s school district.

Bicknell reported that a Common Core education forum will be held Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Double Tree in Modesto.

Also commenting about Common Core standards was home school parent Laurie Braden. She said Common Core is unconstitutional because it is a centralization of education, turning over the control of local schools to the federal government. She said it’s a violation of the 10th Amendment and that education has always been left to the states. She also cited a portion of US Code 1232 relating to educational and privacy rights. She suggested that the OJUSD resist taking on the Common Core standards.

Further in public comments, a Cloverland Elementary School parent said that this year was the first year she hasn’t been able to have a say in requesting a specific teacher for her child. She said there was a letter sent out that stated there would be no requests entertained for teachers this school year, but wanted to know when and why that was decided, stating she would’ve liked to have had something to say about it beforehand. She requested the board put an item on the next meeting agenda regarding the matter. It will come up as a report at the Nov.4 meeting.

Also in public comments, the Sierra View Parent Teacher Club treasurer asked the board to consider giving $50 to each sixth grade student to attend Outdoor Education (science camp) this year – a topic that was discussed amongst the board at a prior meeting. She talked about how much money the PTC raised, and the expense of science camp for the sixth graders. She said last year the PTC did five separate fundraisers to help send the sixth graders to camp but they still had to pull money out of their general fund to cover the costs. She added that they are doing fundraisers nearly every month and it seems excessive to some parents.

Trustees Diane Gilbert and Tina Shatswell said they were under the impression that it was being looked into by staff to see if funds were available to have the district help out with the funding of science camp this year. Superintendent Marc Malone stated that the district was going to revisit the Outdoor Education plan for Oakdale sixth graders in April 2014 to determine if there would be fewer days that they attend, or other options for the following school year, due to rising costs of the camp. Trustee Gilbert asked to see if funds were available somewhere to restore a district contribution of $50 per sixth grade student for this school year for Outdoor Education and for that information to be on Nov. 4 regular meeting agenda.

Magnolia Elementary School PTC parent Adrienne Scott asked the board to consider making Outdoor Education a program that students have to qualify to attend. She supported her argument with examples about other school programs that her children could be enriched from but they don’t qualify for them and she feels Outdoor Education should be done the same way. This will be considered as part of the assessment by the district when it visits the issue about Outdoor Education in April.

Oakdale Teachers Association President Linda Kraus reported that the OTA had interviewed the candidates for open school board seats and had decided to take a neutral position. She also said OTA and OJUSD met and started talks on the collective bargaining contract.

California School Employee Association #830 representative Kathleen O’Hara reported that this week, Oct. 14-18 is National School Lunch Week and next week, Oct. 21-25 is National School Bus Safety Week.

In reports, Larry Mendonca, OJUSD Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Pupil Services, updated the board on progress of the district’s new Central Kitchen plans, as well as the plans for the Cloverland and Fair Oaks elementary schools’ new multipurpose rooms.

He said extensive planning is going on with the Central Kitchen and that it is a “very orchestrated dance right now” and that things are “intricate and complicated” to make sure plans are right. Floor plan specifics are being done and he noted that they got information and input from current kitchen staff as well as “experts.” He said foundation plans have been developed and that the kitchen will be a pre-fab metal building. He said final plans will be done and ready for approval in December.

He said the design is of the Cloverland MPR building is set, it’s pre-fabricated, but it still has to go through the Department of State Architect (DSA) and he anticipates a late Spring approval of the plans from DSA. The Fair Oaks MPR will be of the same design. He said they are strongly considering a south campus location for the MPR as it appears more advantageous at this point.

Mendonca said there is a lot of planning and office work going on and that funding for these projects is on track and in the budget.

In business, a public hearing took place to present the initial proposal to modify the agreement between the CSEA Chapter #830 and OJUSD. O’Hara and Terri Taylor, OJUSD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, exchanged proposals.

Superintendent Malone also reported that the district took in $70,000 in the first quarter from July 1 through Sept. 30 in developer fees.

The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4 at the OJUSD Technology and Staff Development Center, 331 Hinkley Ave., adjacent to the Oakdale High School campus.