Casterlin Elementary School in Blocksburg will be posting a job for an additional 0.3 full time equivalent teacher after a 6-1 vote from Southern Humboldt Unified School District’s board of trustees at their last regular meeting on Oct. 10. The district will have to go through the formal process for making a new hire but the position may go to Michelle Faulk, who is already teaching at Casterlin on a part-time basis. The additional hours would bring her to 0.8 FTE, which does not qualify for medical benefits.
Faulk will work full time, but only four days a week.
"In the past few years, I’ve noticed a serious decline in services provided by this district," said Susan Rios, a teacher at Casterlin.
"We have a list of students who need services like testing," Rios said. "We’re going on the 8th week of school and we’ve only seen our resources teacher twice. They can’t get it done."
"Our indicators of success say that we will attain, retain and support highly qualified and motivated staff members, but it’s getting hard," she said.
Rios is one of only two fulltime teachers at that campus, and she teaches five different grade levels. The extra staff time provided by the additional 0.3 FTE approved by the board should create an environment where Rios’s combination classroom has only three grade levels from Monday to Thursday.
There was another request from Redway School to add staff hours there as well, where an additional first grade teaching position might relieve impacted class sizes all the way up to the fourth grade. An intervention teacher was also proposed, which could help improve learning outcomes for students having trouble with reading. The board and district staff both felt that there was insufficient information to approve such a request, but agreed to re-agendize the issue at a later date.
The district also considered adding a "construction liaison" position to relieve superintendent Catherine Scott of some of her construction-related duties. Trustee Dennis O’Sullivan placed this item on the agenda in hopes that creating the position would allow superintendent Scott to spend more working hours on educational matters. The board agreed to consider it again at a future meeting, after more of the details have been worked out.
Trustees passed a motion to name the newly completed "school within a school" facility at the South Fork High School campus the Miranda Junior High School. The successful motion designated the school’s future mascot as the Mustangs, as in the past.
The SHUSD’s budget for the 2013/14 school year includes a total of $481,000 in deficit spending, but that number may be significantly reduced depending on contributions from the state. Superintendent Scott said that number includes $197,000 from the general fund to cover transportation costs, but that may be covered by Sacramento. The district is also awaiting $93,000 due to the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, which they say treats rural students unfairly and has spurred the trustees to authorize an investigation into the possibility of joining or filing a class-action lawsuit.
Last week’s agenda included closed-session labor negotiations with the Southern Humboldt Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association, but district superintendent Catherine Scott told the Redwood Times that there was nothing to report on that issue. Jennifer Kubik, a member of the SHTA, said that negotiations were postponed.
Superintendent Scott also presented the board with information about the affects of the federal government’s well publicized shutdown that is in its second week as of deadline.
"At this point, there is limited impact, other than a delay on the payment for free and reduced price lunches. We will still be paid," Scott said. "We should be fine, unless the shutdown goes on for an exorbitant amount of time."