ETUSD Calls Special Meeting–Teachers Tell Fear of ‘Manipulation’ When: Thursday, May 19, 7 p.m.

Breaking News: ETUSD Calls Special Meeting—Teachers Tell Fear of ‘Manipulation’
When: Thursday, May 19, 6  p.m. Closed Session and 7 p.m. Public Meeting

A special meeting of the El Tejon Unified School District Board has been called for Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. by Superintendent Katie Kleier. An executive session will precede that at 6 p.m. The public has a right to speak at the beginning of the closed session, but then must leave. They also have a right to  speak at the beginning of the public meeting to address the board. The meetings are held at the ETUSD district office, just north of El Tejon School in Lebec (4337 Lebec Road; Lebec, CA 93243, adjacent to the El Tejon School campus) There is a board room next door to the administrative office.

The notice about the Thursday May 19 special meeting went out at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 18. The items on the agenda to be discussed are the hiring of a principal for Frazier Mountain High School and sending layoff notices to classified support staff (such as clerks, teachers’ aides, bus drivers and groundskeepers). In addition, Kleier said in a brief interview that proposals to the two unions, ETTA and CSEA, will be offered for the board’s approval.

Thursday night is also the El Tejon School Open House and Art Show, at which teachers are hosting parents, so neither parents nor teachers can easily disengage and go to attend this special meeting of the board.

The teachers’ and parents’ “Work Together” campaign has been gaining traction in bringing increasing numbers of parents and teachers to the regular ETUSD board meetings. About 40 are reported to have attended the May 11 board meeting.

“Work Together” coordinator Chuck Mullen (who says he is speaking as a parent and teacher) said that this appears to be “an intentional manipulation” of the emergency board meeting mechanism.

“I pray that our trustees have the wisdom and vigilance to act in our students’ best behalf,” he said. “Tonight our teachers are calling board members to alert them that teachers are putting together a competing budget plan to try to keep the cuts further away from the students than the district’s initial proposal.

“We are very close to having a plan. We love the sports program and respect our classified employees and we think we can keep both,” Mullen said, then provided a specific, “In Terri Geivet’s budget, about $129,000 (allocated for a high school site administrator’s salary and benefits) are very close to the $130,000 it costs for all the aides being laid off. The problems of going without a principal-designate pale in comparison to the benefits of keeping our classified staff together and working for our kids,” Mullen said.

“Let’s get back the kids we’ve lost [enrollment dropped by about 143 in a year, at a loss of over $1 million to the district] and then let’s fill that principal’s position. We can argue about how things ‘ought to be,’ but we are being confronted with an emergency of how things really are.”

The Kern County workshop on redrawing county supervisors’ districts for our area is also taking place Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. at the Frazier Mountain Park Community Center.

When asked why she would call a special meeting on a night when so many are engaged in other things, Kleier said she did not know that these things were occurring (she lives in Bakersfield). She also said that the support staff need to be given 45 days notice before layoff, so timeliness is a concern.
—Reported by Patric Hedlund

This is part of the May 13, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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