Retirement Incentive, Job Reductions Approved
In two inter-related actions, the Governing Board approved a retirement incentive program for classified employees and authorized the reduction of 40 classified positions in the district. The incentive program drew a response from 60 classified employees, who will retire by July 30. Of those 60 retirees, 20 are in positions that are being eliminated and 40 are in positions that will be replaced. Classified employees whose jobs are being eliminated will have the opportunity to apply for those positions that are being vacated by retirees. The district expects that most employees whose jobs are being eliminated will still have positions with the district next fall. Retirement of senior employees and elimination of jobs is expected to save the district over $690,000 the first year, $1.8 million over three years and $3 million in five years as it continues to face budget shortfalls brought on by reduced state funding.
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Castaic Site Studies Continuing
An update from experts hired to do preliminary research on two favored sites for a Castaic area high school focused on traffic issues, state requirements and civil engineering studies. Secondary access roads to both sites continue to be an issue, with more research required on existing easements and what the county will require. Accessibility for the disabled posed an issue for the Romero Canyon site if public buses cannot deliver riders to the top of the slope, while neighbors expressed displeasure at the thought of buses using their quiet cul de sacs for school access. Possible requirements for a second bridge and county acceptance of a proposed secondary access were issues with the Hasley/Sloan site. Environmental concerns at both sites could create delays if permission is required from agencies such as the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Fish and Game. Necessity to re-abandon an oil well on the Romero Canyon property and the cost involved were also discussed. Full reports provided to the Governing Board are available online at http://www.hartdistrict.org/index.php/schools/castaic-high-school by clicking on the link to the desired report. The Governing Board was assured that it would have enough information by July to make a decision between the two proposed sites, but it was stressed that no preliminary studies will have all of the answers and the Board must be prepared to take some risks in its site selection.
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Diversity Plan Successes Continue
The Hart District’s diversity program continues to earn accolades for its efforts to raise diversity awareness and appreciation. Coordinator Greg Lee reported that all district schools have been named model schools for embracing the Mix It Up Day program, along with other diversity activities. The Safe School Ambassadors program will expand into Rancho Pico Junior High next year, making it active in almost all district schools. Other landmark programs include the SHARE tolerance trailer, anti-bullying programs, and an outreach to incoming African American families at La Mesa Junior High. The district’s New Teacher Induction Program makes sure that teachers new to the district receive cultural awareness training.
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School Safety Plans Receive Annual Review
Safety Committees at each Hart District school are required to update their schools’ safety plans each year, with particular emphasis on the Safe and Orderly Environment section, which is unique to each school. The voluminous plans include sections on such topics as child abuse reporting, disaster procedures, suspension and expulsion, dangerous student notifications, sexual harassment, dress codes, safe ingress and egress, school rules and hate crime reporting.
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Arroyo Seco, Saugus ‘Late Start Wednesdays’ Approved
The Governing Board approved site-based decisions for Arroyo Seco Junior High and Saugus High School, with both schools starting classes an hour late on Wednesdays to allow for staff development, collaboration and meetings of site level and curricular teams. The program is new to Arroyo Seco, which has been able to reduce the number of minimum days in the school year to offset the collaboration days. This is the second year of the program for Saugus, where staff members voted overwhelmingly to continue the schedule.
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Financial Report Still Shows Long-term Shortfall
The Hart District managed to finish the year with some $15 million above its required reserves, slightly $200,000 better than projections from the district’s mid-year report. However, the district still is spending about $6 million more each year than it is receiving in income, and must cut expenditures to balance its budget for the next few years. There are still decisions to be made in Sacramento which could impact the district’s financial status either positively or negatively.
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Bid Awarded for Softball Venue Improvements
The district has awarded a contract for improvement of softball venues at Hart, Saugus and Canyon high schools required by the Office of Civil Rights. Five bids were submitted, and the low bid came in at $149,545 for the basic project. Several alternatives in the bid package will be contracted separately, which is expected to save over the initial bids which included the alternatives as part of the overall project. Portions of the projects which are located in public parks adjacent to the high schools will be funded by redevelopment money.
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Board Recognizes Outgoing Superintendent, Student Board Member
The Governing Board recognized retiring Superintendent Jaime Castellanos and outgoing Student Board Member Taylor Arnone at what could be their last Board meeting. Castellanos was saluted for his curricular leadership and achievements during his tenure such as the diversity program, strategic plan, passage of Measure SA bond measure and focus on customer service. In addition to Governing Board recognition, he received a number of certificates and scrolls from elected officials and other school districts which work closely with the Hart District. Arnone was lauded for his willingness to give a student perspective to Governing Board agenda items and for always coming to Board meetings prepared. He received a plaque and his framed portrait that has been on display in the district office all year.
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Congratulations and welcome to the following staff members:
June 9, 2010 Regular Governing Board Meeting
Certificated Position Site
Elissa Pokorney Heter, Sp Ed. (RS/SC1), Golden Valley
Barbara Warren, JROTC Advisor, Golden Valley
Denise Baker (change of status), Spanish/Mathematics, Placerita
Vickie Kaplan (change of status), English, Rio Norte
Helaina Taylor (change of status), Psychologist, Admin Center
Kaitlin Wilson (change of status), Speech Therapist, Admin Center
Marjorie Wood (change of status), Pre-Algebra, Rio Norte
Best wishes and congratulations to retiring staff members Pam Castagna (Rio Norte JHS, Admin. Asst, 13 yrs), Cheryl Ramsey (Rio Norte JHS, Instruct. Asst I/Sp Ed., 10 yrs), Diane Renfro (Hart HS, ROP Advisor, 24 yrs), Jeanne Sisson (Sierra Vista JHS, Library Tech II, 30 yrs).