With a new budget in place for the 2015-16 school year and opening day fast approaching, several summer work projects are being done at sites around the Escalon Unified School District.
“We are doing some routine maintenance, painting a couple of schools, just finishing up on the last part of the high school,” District Superintendent Ron Costa said of work being done. “We also fenced off the high school; one of the things the board has done is fence the schools to try and increase safety.”
Costa said the fencing project is one being done at all sites, with some completed and others still in process. The high school is the most recent site to get the fencing installed.
“The high school got done, now we are working on Dent,” noted Costa. “That project is happening but it is in the design phase, with the state, the fence will go up later.”
Fencing at Dent may be a project that occurs once school is in, possibly by late fall.
Elsewhere, Costa said, all sites are getting cleaned and ready for the return of staff and students within the next couple of weeks.
“Typical cleaning, replacing some carpets,” Costa explained of the bulk of summer work. “We’re also doing some painting of the outside of schools.”
Dent and Farmington sites are in line for some painting touch up, he said.
“Before you know it, everybody will be back here,” Costa said. “New teachers come back on Aug. 7, we spend a full day with them, a half day in the district office, giving them an understanding of how the district works, then they go out to their schools, work with their principals and adjust to their school sites.”
Administratively, all the principals and assistant principals for the schools in the district remain unchanged from last year, adding to the stability of the district.
Dave Lattig returns as principal at Escalon High School and Vista, with Stephanie Parker as assistant principal. At El Portal Middle School, Mark Vos is principal with Mike Gaston as assistant; Anthony Varni returns for a second year as principal at Dent Elementary with Matt Loretelli as assistant. In the rural schools, Talmage Allen is back as principal at Van Allen Elementary, with Anna Ellerson returning to lead the Farmington and Collegeville sites.
“It’s nice this year to be able to have the same team return, I believe it is a really strong team, they work really well with their staffs,” Costa said of the administrators.
Escalon school board members passed the budget for next year prior to the June 30 deadline, Costa said, adding that he feels they were “on target” with what the district will receive from the state and also passed the district’s LCAP, Local Control and Accountability Plan that helps guide the spending.
“One of the things the governor did in his budget this year, he increased the ongoing funding for schools but he also has given the schools some one time money this year,” Costa said. “That is one of the things the board will be talking about the next couple of meetings, the ballpark figure is we will receive a little over a million dollars; that has to be used on a one-time expense, you cannot commit an ongoing expense to one time money.”
Costa said the board will review options for spending that ‘one time use’ money but he’s not sure what area they will decide to use it in.
As far as the overall budget plan, he said it tops out at about $25.2 in revenues, with expenditures estimated at $23.5 million, the bulk of that coming in salaries and benefits.
Among staff changes, Kendra Helsley left the district, vacating her Director of Student Services post, where she oversaw the special education programs. Taking over that role, moving from a post as school psychologist, is Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Chavez.
New teachers have been hired for high school music – Jason Ryan left to take a position with the Lincoln Unified School District – along with chemistry and English at the high school level. Still needed is a middle school music teacher, with a couple of elementary positions also open in addition to one school psychologist post, a couple of classified positions and school aides.
The new staff members will have their orientation on Friday, Aug. 7, with all the other staff coming back on Monday, Aug. 10. School resumes for students on Wednesday, Aug. 12.