School board addresses salaries, school calendars

Voting 4-0 on Feb. 12, School Board President Leslie Edlund and Trustees Joleen Cline, Dave Keller and Clerk of the Board Traci Holt approved applying for an exemption waiver from required expenditures for classroom salaries.

The application is required to be submitted to the County Superintendent if 55 percent of all unified school district expenditures are not spent on classroom instruction, according to Deputy Superintendent for Business Services Lisa Cavin.

“We are making progress on salaries, but not on that 55 percent,” Cavin told the board. “Last year, it went down due to the one-time expenditures we made. I’d expect that percentage to look better when we have our audit next year.”

The agenda item stated that an analysis of PUSD expenditures “makes it clear that much of the 2018-19 shortfall is due in large part to the programs and activities supported by one-time funds.”

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Cavin explained the district is subject to large fluctuations in one-time funding sources, which are not available for ongoing salary increases. These sources include mandated backlog payments from the state, grant funding and Secure Rural Schools federal funding.

Supporting information advised the trustees, “It would be irresponsible to use these one-time revenues to provide ongoing wage increases. Until such time as we can reduce expenses and secure ongoing funding to replace one-time revenues, meeting the mandates of Education Code 41372 poses a serious hardship to Plumas Unified School District.”

School calendar updates

In another 4-0 vote, the trustees approved updates to the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school calendars to offer an additional week of minimum days for parent-teacher conferences for grades K-6.

Beginning with the school year that opens next August, parent-teacher conferences will be held Oct. 5-9 as planned and the additional week of minimum days will fall Feb. 1-5, 2021.

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A similar update for the following school year sets the parent-teacher conferences for Oct. 4-8, 2021, and Jan. 31 through Feb. 4, 2022.

The Plumas County Teachers Association supported the calendar changes, according to the school district.

“Enough time goes by after the fall parent-teacher conferences,” said Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Kristy Warren, “spring helps us reconnect with parents.”

Quincy Elementary School Principal Lara Hollister told the board she agreed.

“It just makes sense for us,” Hollister said.

On that same agenda item, the trustees approved selecting a day later in the year for a potential closure make-up day previously scheduled just prior to winter break. The two updated calendars indicate options for make-up school days in February, March, April or May.

Serving students and families with restorative practices

PUSD’s Pupil Services Director Kevin Bean, who also directs the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) program, informed the school board about progress on “restorative practices” to serve students and reduce suspensions, expulsions and discipline referrals.

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The process involves evidence-based practices and techniques that proactively develop relationships and build community. Actions include giving all stakeholders a chance to respond and participate “for the purpose of repairing harm and preventing future harm,” according to information presented to the trustees.

Bean described the trained leadership teams now in place at area junior-senior high campuses and integrating the restorative practices approach with successful PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports).

Trustee Edlund asked about reducing suspension rates and Bean explained the numbers “may be flat this year and move in that direction going forward.”

Trustee Keller said what about kids (whom) this does not help?

Bean replied that PUSD is using a three-tiered model to work with students and their families.

“We’re putting more wraparound efforts in place and forming community partnerships to make sure the support is there at school and at home,” he said.

Plumas votes at CSBA

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Trustees Edlund, Cline, Holt and Keller also voted unanimously to select fellow board member Dwight Pierson as the California School Board Association (CSBA) delegate assembly representative for 2020-22. Pierson was not available for the meeting and has previously emphasized the importance of representing rural school district issues at CSBA.

In a similar action, the board voted 3-0 to select Brenda Duchi to serve as PUSD’s continued county delegate assembly representative for the same period. Duchi is the incumbent in CSBA Region 2 representing Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity Counties. Trustee Holt abstained from that vote.