School board approves staff changes, budget adjustments, preschool plan

PUSD board approves new Amador Valley vice principal, welcomes temporary assistant superintendent

The Pleasanton school board met Tuesday night to approve staff changes, discuss the district's budget, start the process of creating a science-and-technology preschool and approve fun field trips for sports and classes.

Board members approved Suzanne Smith as a new vice principal at Amador Valley High School, welcomed Micaela Ochoa as substitute assistant superintendent of business services and approved 15 new hires, as well as several personnel adjustments, promotions and reassignments.

The meeting covered several beginning-of-year housekeeping items, such as approval of teachers who've already begun teaching and approval of items that were purchased in August, such as textbooks, computers and markerboards.

Budgetary items were also reviewed, such as a $1.1 million expected grant and slight revisions to the 2014-15 budget based on factors the regular budget couldn't predict.

Smith joins Amador Valley after a time of reshuffling. She will fill the spot vacated by former vice principal Sebastian Bull, who recently started as principal at Donlon Elementary School. A longtime district teacher and college-readiness coach, Smith was most recently a half-time vice principal at Pleasanton Middle School and half-time literacy coach. An appointment will be made later for her replacement at Pleasanton Middle.

Ochoa will be temporarily replacing assistant superintendent Luz Cazares, who is away from work on leave, district spokeswoman Nicole Steward said. While the district couldn't state why she's on leave due to laws surrounding personnel issues, Steward said she is not away due to any disciplinary action nor is she critically ill.

Among the dozens of personnel changes was the reassignment of longtime Walnut Grove custodian Mike Payne to Alisal Elementary, with a starting date of last Aug. 25. Simultaneously, custodian Mario Tellez was reassigned from Alisal to Walnut Grove Elementary.

The board also welcomed student board member Joshua Ott, an Amador Valley junior who will alternate with students from schools in the district to be the voice of students on the board. Ott was selected to join the board after going through an application process. Student board members do not vote.

The board decided to give its OK for the district to apply to open a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Agriculture and Mathematics (STEAM) preschool. While the opening date of the preschool isn't known yet -- which is why it isn't taking enrollment applications yet -- Ochoa said it could open in a matter of weeks after the state approves the district's application.

Other items on the agenda included approval of the acceptance of a $1.1 million grant the district will get from the state Educator Effectiveness Program, which must be used on professional development for teachers or administrators, and adjustments to the general fund budget.

About $776,000 is expected to be spent on district-wide professional development, such as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) training. The remaining $400,000 will be allocated to each school on the basis of $28 per student. Training should advance teachers and administrators toward achieving Common Core goals.

"We really want to create many opportunities" for professional growth, assistant superintendent of education services Odie Douglas said.

The district also made slight alterations to its general fund budget for 2014-15, which is a typical process after a budget cycle ends. The district's revenues increased because more money than expected went to the district from the state due to increases in the apprenticeship program and lottery funds. Local donations also increased by $1.4 million due to involvement from various donors, including the Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE) Foundation.

Its expenditures also changed slightly, but only because the district was able to save money on expenses. The total school year budget was $16.74 million, with a remaining reserve of $3.3 million.

It hasn't been determined how the leftover reserve will be spent this year, but Ochoa reminded the board that it has several one-time staffing appointments, salary increases and other negotiations that should be kept in mind when considering possible uses.

The board also covered:

-Approval of high school field trips for sports teams attending meets and classes attending competitions and educational trips, all of which will be paid through voluntary donations.

-Discussion about what process and criteria to use to add a community member to the board's audit committee. Some board members said they preferred the new committee member be a certified public accountant (CPA), some said they prefered the individual have a child attending schoolin the district and others said those criterion weren't necessary. Staff was directed to create a committee member application, which will be approved and sent to the public later on.

-The superintendent search process will be covered in the next school board meeting on Sept. 22.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Rod
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Ms. Ochera is an interesting choice. It looks like the financial issues at SCCOE occurred before she got there then she uncovered them. It also looks like she defended the Public Records Act when others were abusing it. Not sure about the bond refinancing, thought that the state later banned such practices.

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