This past week the Oakdale community lost one of our truly great individuals with the passing of Pam Antinetti. Pam lost her long courageous battle with cancer and entered into rest on Feb. 5. Pam was a wonderful wife, mother, friend, teacher, school principal and Oakdale Joint Unified School District board member. Pam did an outstanding job in all of these areas.
What I will remember the most about Pam Antinetti is her grace with dignity and the fact that she kept what was best for students as her top priority. Pam constantly did the right thing for the children she served and loved. She will be missed and will be the example that I would encourage any young educator to hold up as a role model. Pam was an inspiration to the people who knew and cared for her.
Last Saturday I was able to sit in the audience at the Johansen High School auditorium and watch the Oakdale High School Academic Decathlon Team overwhelm their Stanislaus County competition in this scholastic event. It was truly a “Decade of Dominance” for the Oakdale High students.
The team spirit and camaraderie was incredible. Fans from Oakdale filled the stands and several members from previous year’s Aca Deca teams came home from college to attend the event. We were there to encourage and celebrate the victory with this year’s team. The pride the town of Oakdale shares in the accomplishments of these young people is wonderful. The accomplishment of the Academic Decathlon Team is further evidence of the strong commitment our district has made to academic excellence. The high expectations set by OJUSD staff and successes of our students in academics is tremendous. Thank you to the team members and the outstanding teacher, Lissa Jones, for allowing Oakdale to share in their success.
While I was at the Aca Deca competition, several school administrators, teachers, fans and OJUSD board member Mike House were able to travel to Rosemont High School in Sacramento to witness our OHS Boy’s Varsity Wrestling Team win their second consecutive Division 4 Section Championship over Placer High. The next step in the journey for the wrestlers is the Valley Oak League Championships being held (Feb. 13) right after this column is due. We are proud of the efforts of our athletes and the dedication of our coaches, Brian Stevens, Dan Casey and Jim Cox.
At the last school board meeting the OJUSD Board of Trustees, President Mike Tozzi, Board Clerk Bill Dyer and board members Mike House and Diane Gilbert and student representative Michael Homer took action to approve budget reductions for the next fiscal year (2010-2011). Although our district leaders have reduced expenses the past four consecutive years, these reductions are needed because of the continuing fiscal crisis that the State of California is currently immersed in and the cuts in funding that the Governor and the state legislators have made to education.
Before I explain some of the budget cuts I want to answer a question that is frequently asked. The question is, “Why is the school district building a pool at Oakdale High School when the district is in a budget crisis?”
The answer is really quite simple. The pool is being built with funds that were saved from frugal planning in the construction of Sierra View School. These funds can only be used for the construction of new projects or to modernize existing facilities. These specific funds must be used for this type of project. The pool construction project actually creates jobs. The building of the pool does not take any money from the general funds that are allocated to run the educational programs or pay the employees of the district. If the school district did not use these dollars to build the pool, OJUSD would have to return the money to the state and the state would reallocate those funds to another school district.
The recommendation to make budget reductions the board approved on Feb. 8 was a difficult decision. I have recommended that the district negotiate with our labor groups to make salary cuts across the board. If we are able to negotiate salary reductions we will be able to avoid the layoff of dozens of teachers and classified staff.
Other board-approved areas of reductions include: eliminate two clerical positions, reduce one vice principal at Oakdale High in 2011-2012, increase class size by teacher attrition in grades K-3, eliminate 9th grade math class size reduction, eliminate most conferences, restructure or reduce custodial staffing, restructure band, reduce several supply budgets, consolidate bus routes to eliminate one bus route.
All of the budget cuts will have a consequence and an impact on our programs but we still know that the OJUSD will provide your students an excellent education.
Superintendent’s Spotlight is a monthly column provided by Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Fred Rich, updating the community with information about school district activities.