An instructional assistant to help in each kindergarten classroom and a physical education teacher at each of Dixon’s three elementary schools were the top responses to an informal survey given recently by the Dixon Teacher Association to teachers asking for the best use of funding.
This was one of many issues discussed at last night’s Dixon Unified School District Meeting held at City Hall.
Julie Felkins, DTA Co-President gave a “one-slide presentation” showing the two top answers and the cost that would be incurred for those positions to the district. She also read from the California Code of Education requirements and stated, “There is no way a comprehensive, age appropriate developmental program is happening and I’m asking you to go be a kindergarten teacher for a day so you will understand this need.”
There were numerous comments from parents and teachers emphasizing the importance of the early years and asking for the Board to fund those positions but no action was taken, as the item was an information only item on the agenda.
However, an item was approved that provided for a Regional Primary Autism Class that would be established at Tremont Elementary School for the 2011-2012 school year.
“These students have very specific needs and we need someone fully authorized to meet those needs,” said Brian Dolan, assistant superintendent. There are 6 -8 children identified for the class and the decision is cost effective over sending the students to a regional program elsewhere, he said. The DTA voiced their support.
School Board Rep. Irina Okhremtchouk grilled Superintendent Roger Halberg for clarification that the funds would come out of the General Fund Account.
In the school reports, Dixon High School Board rep Gabby D’Amelio announced that the Future Farmers of America were chosen as ‘Outstanding Chapter’ and that the Parent Teacher Association had collected 285 reams of paper at their annual paper drive. She also announced this Saturday's Clean Up Day 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with lunch being provided for all those who come out and help.
Fifth grader Nathan Welch gave a report for Anderson Elementary fundraising for children who have leukemia saying the students raised $1,800 last year but this year they hoped to raise $2,000 with their collection of ‘Pennies for Patients.’
In another presentation, Anderson teacher Teresa Loarca expressed need for better communications, staff and student safety, and staff.
Conditions are worsening, she said, yet with the 400 years of collective experience that staff and teachers have, the district is not tapping into that.
“We feel left out of important site decisions,” she said. “The recent budget cuts have cracked our foundation and we want to work to rebuild it…together.”
Susan Girimonte gave a detailed report on the selection process and recommendation for a selected Reading Language Arts curriculum for K-6 elementary students that the Board will act upon in April. This would be the first update since 2002 and the books will be on display in the DUSD office, Suite 2, on March 23 and 24.
The new DUSD Chief Business Official Cecile Nunley who said “they were already slipping behind” on dates to get notices to schools sought from the Board and from the ad-hoc Budget Committee budget guidance.
Superintendent Roger Halberg had a goal to cut one million across the board and Parent Courtney Kett said that the committee had only slashed $100,000 after immense scrutiny of the budget so had no choice but to get into actually cutting positions and salaries. In response to questions about the legality of changing pay on negotiated contracts, Kett said the committee made a decision not to take anyone’s ideas off the list.
“Yes, there are things that should not be on the list because we knew they were negotiated," Kett said. "We were already so barebones and could only come up with $100,000. We were told we would have to get into salaries as they are 74 percent of the budget.”
“None of us took this lightly, but we need to keep ourselves solvent,” she said. The next School Board Meeting will be April 21, 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Dixon City Hall, 600 East A Street.