PIEDMONT -- The school board gave the green light to parent clubs for them to fund the buyback of two furlough days for the 2013-14 school year.
The move would bring changes to the instructional calendar. Proposed is: making Nov. 1 a nonstudent day and designating it a paid professional development day for teachers; making Jan. 7, currently a vacation day for winter break, a student day; March 21 would be a school day for all students and staff.
The agreement is subject to approval by the bargaining units and final approval by the board at its March 27 meeting. The buyback will require the commitment of $180,000 in new funds from parent clubs and other fundraising. Teachers agreed two years ago to five furlough days to save the district about $450,000 per year through 2013-14.
The board also discussed how to spend the $12.7 million in modernization money received from the state for "matching funds" for the district's seismic upgrade programs. The funds can only be used for capital improvement projects, such as roof repairs, Alan Harvey Theater renovations, fencing and the like. The money could also be used to pay down debt service on bonds. Superintendent Connie Hubbard said first priority of projects would be health and safety on all campuses.
"Yes, focus on school security," resident George Childs said, but also "pay down the debt service on the bonds" to give taxpayers a break.
The board may have a special workshop to begin prioritizing projects this spring. Hubbard updated the board on steps being taken to keep Piedmont schools safe and secure at all times, particularly in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. Police officers have done walkarounds at campuses. Hubbard has met with new police Chief Rikki Goede to gauge her input. Schools are enforcing all visitors to check in at the office and wear badges at all times while on campus. The district plans to limit access to campuses during the school day by "walk through" visitors who use them as shortcuts for walking their dogs and the like. They plan to restrict use of Witter Field on the Piedmont High campus during the school day and plan fencing around Wildwood School.
"It's an inconvenience," Hubbard admitted. "It requires a culture shift. We'll have to educate people, and we expect resistance."