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School Business As Usual As Contract Negotiations Linger
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It was yet another standing room only session for the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 2. The meeting was conducted at the OJUSD Technology and Staff Development Center due to overlap with Oakdale City Council meeting.

A host of topics were covered in closed session, prior to the meeting being called to order a few minutes past its scheduled 6:30 p.m. start time. Among those items was the topic of Labor Negotiations with Oakdale Teachers Association and California School Employees CSEA Chapter #830. No action was taken, as both the talks continue.

Classified employees Vicki Lucas, Secretary of East Stanislaus and Connie Preciado, lead custodian of Cloverland, were each acknowledged for the honor they earned as Employees Making a Difference presented recently by the Stanislaus County Office of Education. The pair combined represent 60 years of dedication to the education system. Lucas was also presented with the Jane Johnston Civility Award at the county awards ceremony.

With labor negotiations still ongoing, OTA Representative Stacy Graham addressed the board, making note of the unity of the members during this time.

“This is the second board meeting where we’ve had so many people in attendance,” she said. “We recognize that the school board and the district have certain timelines and parameters in which they make their decisions. We appreciate the collaboration between the association and the district in which contractual language was tentatively agreed upon. It’s our hope that we can come to an agreement on our final items, salary and benefits.”

CSEA Representative Marc Mutoza followed Graham to the podium, first offering congratulations to Lucas and Preciado for their recognition.

“I’m also impressed with our Oakdale Joint Unified School District staff that has come to this meeting,” he said. “It makes me feel good that everybody is here to support each other, whether it be classified, certificated or administration. We all make the district the best in this county in my eyes. We’re a family. Families stay together. I’m confident that our negotiations upcoming with the district will come to a mutual agreement and be settled.”

Student Representative Rachelle Pabalan informed the board of the Winter Homecoming activities at OHS, as well as the upcoming Academic Decathlon.

“As some of you may know Oakdale’s team has won for the past 14 years and hopefully we can make it the 15th this Saturday,” she said.

Adoption of the consent items were approved without discussion, with exception to item 9.4 (Approval of Drama/Choir Trip to Anaheim/Disneyland). Board member Mike Tozzi inquired on precautions in regards to advising everyone on vaccines and the measles break out recently at the amusement park.

Superintendent Marc Malone addressed Tozzi and the board, acknowledging Assistant Superintendent Larry Mendonca was prepared to speak regarding the issue.

“Our state law does not require every student to be immunized,” Malone stated. “However, there is a process that has to be followed for those students that are not immunized and Larry’s prepared to comment more.”

Mendonca shared that there is an exemption process. Part of the process is a form that is in place statewide that requires the parent to go to a physician and be advised by medical personnel as to what that exemption may mean, especially in regard to the risks that are out there.

“I think a lot of this measles outbreak has really brought a lot of attention and a lot of realization to the dangers by not immunizing your children,” Mendonca said. “Again, there are religious or other factors that a parent makes those decisions by and we have to respect those by law. But we also want to make sure parents are fully educated. So part of our process is that they must consult with a medical physician or personnel so they can get as much information as possible.”

As a result of further discussion this consent item was also approved.

In other news, Mendonca reported on the recently opened for business OJUSD Central Kitchen, noting that the facility was completed on time and on budget, due greatly to the team assembled to bring it to fruition. An open house at the new location will be hosted later this month.

Chief Business Officer Susan Dyke reviewed in detail the 2014-15 Second Interim Financial report noting revenue, expenditures and reserves. She stated that numbers do not reflect negotiations, hence the numbers will likely change by next report.

The 2015-16 school calendar was approved with a few notable changes from the previous year. Students will now have a week off the week of Thanksgiving as well as one week in February.

Assistant Superintendent Terri Taylor noted that the changes still place the students evenly in the classroom for 90 days in both the first and second half of the school year.

“This is a collaborative effort is it not?” Tozzi asked.

“It is,” Taylor replied.

The next OJUSD meeting will be held on Monday, March 9. Open Session will begin at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be conducted at Oakdale City Council Chambers, 277 N. Second Ave., Oakdale.