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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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School board to consider adding 12 teaching positions, reducing class sizes

By
From page A1 | April 16, 2014 |

During Thursday night’s meeting, the Davis school board will consider a proposal to hire the equivalent of 12 teachers, which would reduce elementary class sizes in parts of the school district. The move will bring the district into compliance with state guidelines for elementary class size.

The proposal also includes adding some secretarial time at school offices that was cut during the state budget crisis, including more hours for elementary school secretaries at four campuses; two maintenance positions — a groundskeeper and a night custodian; and some district office positions — a director of instructional services, a director of human resources and a part-time public information officer.

The total package comes at a cost of $1.23 million, an amount that already has been calculated into the district’s three-year budget projections, according to the agenda summary.

Also on the agenda is a staffing and enrollment update that projects an average class size next year of 25 students in grades K-3, 29 students in grades 4-6 and 32 students in junior high and high school classes. Four elementary schools — Willett, Montgomery, Korematsu and Pioneer — would see a small increase in school secretarial staffing (0.25 of full time at each campus).

Thursday night’s meeting also will include a review of the process by which the board will appoint a trustee to fill a vacant seat from May to November. The discussion will not include interviews of the candidates who have applied for the appointed position; those will take place at a special board meeting May 8.

Also on Thursday’s agenda will be a review of a proposed school board policy covering use of cell phones and other mobile communications devices, as well as a proposed “bring your own device” policy that would cover students bringing their own laptop or tablet computer to school for use in class. This area is not addressed in detail under existing school board policy.

Trustees also will hear a report on student health and well-being from the district’s student support services staff.

Thursday’s agenda summary briefly recaps the events of the past seven years, noting, “In 2006-07, the Davis district underwent a traumatic downsizing that eliminated teachers and classified staff and district-level employees who provided administrative leadership and support services throughout the district, which impacted students, teachers, classified staff and site administrators.

“The 2006-07 downsize did not improve the quality of services in the district but was necessary to keep the district fiscally solvent during the state’s financial crisis. The Davis community recognizes that these administrative cuts were unsustainable and moreover, counterproductive to growing a rich and vibrant academic culture.”

The increases in class sizes that resulted from the staffing reductions were unpopular with parents, who almost universally prefer smaller class sizes. Teachers also complained that they were being asked to handle more students and grade more papers with no adjustment in salary.

The school district’s financial picture began to look up after California voters approved Proposition 30 in 2012, and state legislators began restoring some cuts made during the budget crisis.

“Now that (financial) resources are gradually returning to the district, it is imperative that we strategically appropriate resources to all sectors of our organization to meet the district’s mission and objectives,” the agenda summary continues. “In 2013-14, the board allocated resources to lower elementary class sizes, improve the counselor-to-student ratio at the secondary level, and improve the district’s instructional technology for students and teachers.”

Additionally, the board has approved a 2-percent raise for certificated and classified employees — the first increase in base salary that the district had seen in seven years.

“Organizationally, these services place the district one step closer toward successfully leading, implementing and monitoring the board-approved strategies and action steps from our strategic plan, and gives us the necessary human capacity to advance Common Core state standards, Local Control Accountability Plan, a professional growth system, assessments and improved communications within the district,” the agenda summary states.

The staffing proposal is accompanied by a set of enrollment projections for the 2014-15 academic year that forecasts the following figures:

* Elementary campuses: Montgomery, 418 students; Birch Lane, 613; North Davis, 555; Pioneer, 539; Chávez, 611; Willett, 492; Patwin, 384; Korematsu, 528; and Fairfield, 50;

* Junior high campuses: Harper, 620 students; Holmes, 730; and Emerson, 450, plus 292 in the Da Vinci Charter Academy program; and

* High school campuses: Davis High, 1,731 students; Da Vinci Charter Academy, 353; and King High, 50.

The Davis School for Independent Study projects 117 students, spread over grades kindergarten through 12, and the special education preschool will welcome 20 students.

The total enrollment across the district is projected at 8,553 students.

Thursday’s school board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. The meeting will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as live streaming video on www.djusd.tv.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

 

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