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Unions Urge Trustees To Reconsider Search
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Teachers union and classified employees union presidents Linda Kraus and Mark Mutoza urged the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees to reconsider conducting a national search for Superintendent to replace retiring district head Fred Rich at the Dec. 13 regular meeting.

Kraus cited the expense of conducting such a search in light of school personnel having to deal with cutbacks that included scaling back energy use at the schools for the past two years, overlapping kindergarten classes to save on bussing, and staff reductions through attrition that have resulted in larger class sizes.

“You, the board, are asking us to take a significant cut in pay,” Kraus said.

She then told the board that there is no time like the present to lead by example and follow Superintendent Rich’s recommendation to reduce the district’s uppermost administrative staff through attrition.

Following Kraus’ comments, loud applause and cheers erupted from the audience, many attendees standing to clap.

Mutoza followed and said there are people within the district with the right qualifications to fill the Superintendent position. He stated that he hoped the board would “reconsider” their previous decision to conduct a search.

In public comments at the start of the meeting, kindergarten teacher Diane Noon took to the podium and expressed concern about the board’s decision at a special meeting in October to conduct a Superintendent search. She said that teachers, custodians, and other staff are being asked to do more with less.

“You could save $200,000 and utilize that money when you are asking the teachers to take a seven percent cut,” Noon said.

The board listened to all the comments but did not have formal responses to any of them.

In other business, the board elected new officers for the 2010-2011 year. Trustee Rick W. Jones will serve as board president, William Dyer will serve as board clerk, and Diane Gilbert will be the board’s representative to the Stanislaus County committee on school district organization.

Also in other business, Assistant Superintendent for Business Tim Hern gave the board a report of the First Interim financials. Hern said it was probably the most unusual first interim report he’s given because of the difficulty of discerning information from the state for budget projections. He said that this year is very difficult to project.

Hern said the district expects $1.45 million that’s supposed to come from the state in 2010-2011 will likely be eliminated. He also said that the state has usually paid $8 million to the district by this time, but the district has received less than half that amount so far. In his report he said that enrollment is being watched very carefully and that enrollment this year is unusual in that it is staying fairly steady so far. It usually starts high and declines. He also said that the district is in a good financial position at this time because of its high reserve, the reserves are keeping the district solvent.

A question came from the audience about selling property the district owns to bring in more money. Hern said that the properties don’t have much value at this time compared to what was paid for them, as well, sales would be “one time dollars.” He also reported that the law requires that money collected from property sales would have to go into a capital projects fund and cannot go into the general fund.

A special meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10 at the OJUSD Tech Center on the west side of the Oakdale High School campus to approve the Superintendent search timeline.

The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24 at the Oakdale City Council Chambers, 277 N. Second.