For the third consecutive month vacant seats were at a minimum for the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board meeting conducted Monday night, March 9. Oakdale City Council chambers were once again filled to capacity as teachers and parents stood along the sides, back and spilled out into the entry way.
The subject of teachers’ contracts and wage increases continued to be the hot topic. While the topic did not hold space on the formal agenda, teachers and parents once again spoke during the Public Comment portion of the session, offering testimony as to why the current proposed amount is not enough.
Magnolia third grade teacher Melissa Clark addressed the board, making note of the significant increase in her health care expenditure in 2010 vs. today. She highlighted that even with the proposed 5 percent salary increase she would still face an extra expense of $400 monthly for health care alone.
“I am only bringing home $54 more a month than I did in 2010,” Clark said. “I live in this district. I’m a parent in this district. I am a teacher in this district and I am invested in this district.
“As a parent in this district I want my child to have the best education possible. I want her to have access to technology, updated textbooks and facilities. But in these times of new standards, new technology and new methods of teaching, the most valuable investment that we can make for our children will always be a highly qualified teacher. I know with one of the largest reserves in the county we can make it all happen.”
Clark was not the only person asking for the Board’s time and attention regarding the educator’s salary. Mother of two Tiffany Lovelace also offered words of concern in the way in which negotiations and support was being shown to the teachers. Magnolia Elementary School kindergarten teacher Chris Arsenio spoke as well.
Since it was not an agendized item, there was no formal action, though officials indicated talks and negotiations are continuing.
CSEA Chapter #830 representative Mark Mutoza addressed the board, acknowledging the tentative agreement which had been reached in the way of contract negations with that organization.
Approval of the salary increase of 5 percent (retroactive to July 1, 2014) was later approved, along with the one-time off the salary schedule bonus of 1 percent to members’ annual salaries. The CSEA agreement will have a fiscal impact of $331,636 annually ongoing plus $63,605 for the one-time bonus.
Salary and Stipend increases for the Superintendent, Management and Confidential employees was also approved with the same structure. The 5 percent (also retroactive to July 1) and 1 percent bonus will have a fiscal impact of $195,455 annually ongoing plus the one-time bonus of $41,641 total.
The Board of Trustees also received an increase in compensation. Their current monthly amount will be increased from $322 per month to $338.
As noted prior, the Oakdale Teachers Association continues to negotiate its contract.
In other items, Superintendent Marc Malone reviewed with the board the need for an updated boundary study for the elementary schools. Current enrollment shows: Fair Oaks, 876 students; Sierra View, 701 students; Magnolia, 603 and Cloverland 547.
Malone attributed the increased growth on the west side of town in the Bridle Ridge and Vineyard areas as having a large impact on the Fair Oaks enrollment.
The proposal would have SchoolWorks, Inc. conduct the boundary study in the 2015-16 school year, with implementation in the 2016-17 school year. Cost of the study is not to exceed $8,000.
Board member Mike Tozzi inquired as to how the study, and boundary change would affect the impact on class size.
“Certainly we’ll look at leveling,” Malone said. “We do have class size reduction which is unique for Oakdale because a lot of districts gave up T-k3 class size reduction.”
Malone reiterated that once the study is complete the community and parents will be made aware of any change recommendations, including the possible shifting of staff between schools, and how it will be executed district wide.
The board approved the request for the study.
Oakdale High School FFA had a large club representation on hand Monday night, as students were acknowledged for State Degree Awards, as well as Public Speaking.
“One of the neat things about the State FFA Degree is that it truly recognizes the kids’ agricultural involvement,” OHS Ag teacher, Isaac Robles stated of the 21 recipients. “Every single one of these students that are here and the ones that couldn’t make it have projects that range from raising animals, to work experience, working on their family farm and at their homes. So on top of all of their school work and athletics and other FFA activities they might have they also have the responsibility to take care of those different jobs.”
The next OJUSD School Board meeting will be hosted on Monday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be conducted at the Oakdale City Council Chambers, 277 N. Second Ave., Oakdale.