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Summer School Cancelled
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Summer school will not be in session, as the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees voted 5-1 to suspend it for this year at the April 12 regular meeting.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Barbara Shook said that after review, district staff felt they couldn’t continue to infringe on general fund dollars to support the summer school program for the high school and junior high school.

Shook said that the money the district receives for all remediation and intersession programs is based on 2007-2008 at $112,000. However, for the last three years, the monies have been “deficited” to $63,000, so the district has been drawing from the general fund to fill in the gap to support the program. The $63,000 actually only covers the programs to help students during the regular school year, Shook said, as the total cost to cover intersession and remediation classes is in the neighborhood of $135,000-$145,000.

“We just don’t see another way to support summer school this year,” she said.

She added that the district has been talking for a while about the possibility of there not being summer school this year. She reported that there are 22 high school seniors who need additional credits to graduate so they have been taking additional classes through Valley Oak High School (independent study) and seventh period classes to make up the credits.

The summer school program was not on the original list of budget cuts that went before the board.

“We’ve tried to keep all the cuts away from the kids,” said board member Mike House.

District Superintendent Fred Rich responded to House that the approximately $140,000 price tag to cover those programs represents two certificated teacher positions.

Shook said that she does have concerns about how the graduation rate and dropout rate may be affected. She said she didn’t recommend suspending summer school for longer than one year.

The district has looked into a “fee for service” summer program, as some districts do, but those must be outsourced and can cost as much as $500 per class, so it would be limited to only those who could afford it. Shook said that a community the size of Oakdale cannot support that kind of program.

She added that the district is also looking heavily into “virtual academy,” or “cyber high.” They have looked at such programs offered by Turlock, Patterson, Lodi, and Newman districts. These programs can range widely in cost from $150 to $4,500 per student. The district would be required to cover these costs but, Shook said, the district can use CAHSEE remediation money to offset the costs — it’s a different funding source. She said that the district may be able to shift funding for next year, but cannot do it this year.

Meeting attendee Lori Bolme has daughters at the high school who are involved in sports, band, and A.P. (advanced placement) classes. She said that while there are students who need summer school in order to graduate, there are other students who are on the higher end of the academic spectrum who take it in order to fit classes such as band or choir into their schedules during the regular school year. Due to requirements for classes like computers and health, some students take those classes over the summer so that they may enroll in A.P. or other elective classes during the regular year.

“Keep in mind, it affects other programs when kids can’t take summer school,” Bolme said to the board.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve a resolution for the reduction or discontinuance of service for classified employees. Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Marc Malone said the resolution is precautionary and the potential layoffs, which would be effective as of June 30, would include seven full-time employees: one bus driver, one secretary II, and five custodian I.

Also in other business, the board unanimously approved the award of the Leo Volz Scholarship to OHS senior Todd Medema. There were five finalists for the award out of 17 who competed. The Volz scholarship pays full tuition for four years to an accredited university. It is awarded to a student who is high performing academically, is well-rounded and has financial need.

In organization reports, Oakdale Teachers Association President Linda Kraus said that the district and the OTA reached a tentative agreement on March 30. Today, Wednesday, April 14, there will be a general membership meeting to discuss the agreement, and a ratification vote will take place on April 15. Kraus also requested that a special board meeting be called to rescind RIF (reduction in force) notices following ratification of the agreement.

Kraus also reported that School Bell award nominees from Oakdale are Sierra View third grade teacher Penny Muniain and Oakdale Junior High School custodian Shelly Crist. She also reported that Oakdale Leader reporter Dawn M. Henley was nominated by OTA for the 2009 John Swett Award for Media Excellence.

California School Employees Association Chapter #830 President Mark Mutoza commented on his concerns for employees in the district and said that it’s important for the unions to work together with the district to save jobs.

In closed session report, the board voted to expel eight students from the district, a hearing for another possible student expulsion was to continue after the meeting.

The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 10 at City Council Chambers, 277 No. Second.