The Calaveras Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees held a meeting at its administrative offices in San Andreas on Tuesday.
The meeting featured two presentations: one by CUSD Fiscal Director Kassandra Booth on special education, and one by Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Joe Cruz on updates to facility projects.
For the 2019-20 school year, the district plans on paying out $6.9 million to the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for specialized special education services. SELPA is a consortium of districts that provides services to children residing in their districts.
The percentage of CUSD students in special education programs was 19% in 2018, up from 17% in 2017 and up from 11% in 2008.
Booth provided a graph that showed special education enrollment in the district rising, as overall enrollment declined. A graph of state figures showed the same trend.
Because funding for the district is tied to enrollment numbers, this trend has put significant strain on the finances of the district.
During his presentation of facility project updates, Cruz discussed repairs to the pool and field at Calaveras High School, and updates to the wastewater treatment plant at Toyon Middle School.
Repairs for the grates in the swimming pool are planned for mid-July, Cruz said, and repairs to the turf field are scheduled for July 29, just before the next school year begins.
Cruz discussed several possibilities for updates to the Toyon wastewater treatment plant.
A new state grant program recently became available to wastewater treatment plants managed by school districts, Cruz said, allowing possible funds for badly needed facility updates.
Moving the plant away from the school, as is being done at Jenny Lind, was not a possibility, according to Cruz, because of the cost.
Installing an underground drip system was discussed, as well as installing a recirculating sand filter with an offsite spray field, which Cruz recommended.
“It really is the only viable option,” Cruz said. “This plant at Toyon will eventually fail. I want to keep the momentum going on this project, so we can complete Toyon right along with Jenny Lind.”
The consent agenda was unanimously approved by a 5-0 vote. It included the approval of several contracts, including $22,500 for garden-based science classes at Valley Springs Elementary, an amount not to exceed $250,000 for speech-language pathology services across the district, and $20,400 to renew the contract for a wastewater treatment plant consultant.
The items on the regular agenda were also unanimously approved. They included the approval of the year’s Local Accountability Plan, Single Plans for Student Achievement, and the 2019-20 budget.
One audience member spoke before the board passed the budget.
“It seems that the budget is doing the same thing that it’s been doing the last five to 10 years, which is to take the easy way out and cut money, cut teachers,” she said. “I think we need to take a good look at how we’re financing our schools, and be advised that we have 1,000 less students than we did 10 or 12 years ago, and we’re still pretty much funding everything the same way. I think we’re going to find ourselves with our backs against the wall if we don’t do something about that now.”
“Easier said than done,” board President Dennis Dennigan said.
The next CUSD board meeting is scheduled for July 16 at 5 p.m.