TEMPLETON — The Templeton Unified School District (TUSD) held their regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 11, beginning with a closed session with nothing to report before opening it up to the public.
The Zoom meeting had more than 50 participants at its peak, the majority of whom appeared to be parents intent on getting plans from the Board on when their kids could return to in-person school in light of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Templeton parent, Michelle Dowell, spoke, thanking the Board and the teachers for the efforts made thus far to get kids back to school, “it’s an accomplishment, and more than many districts have been able to do throughout the state.” She then requested an emergency Board meeting to address the possibility of returning to in-person instruction based on the new tier measuring metrics that Penny Borenstein, the Public Health Director, brought up the day before.
The COVID-19 county tier system works based on three metrics, wherein the county is placed based on the poorest ranking metric. However, if the other two metrics measure two tiers better, the county will be able to move one level. For San Luis Obispo county, the case rate currently measures in the purple tier, but both the test positivity rate and health equity metric have measured in the orange tier for one week. If this holds for a second week, the county could move up one level into the red tier, and following the move, schools need only wait five days before they will be able to open.
According to Aaron Asplund, TUSD Superintendent, the middle and high school would be prepared to open on Mar. 1, if the county is successful in moving to the red tier on Feb. 17. The school would enter into a hybrid state of in-person and remote learning, similar to Templeton Elementary School, which is already open in a hybrid format.
The other matter of business before the Board was the issue of the change of budget certification from Positive to Qualified.
According to the California Education Code, schools are required to submit financial reports showing ability to continue paying obligations for not only the current year but two subsequent years. Ability to meet the financial obligations of all three years would result in a Positive Certification, whereas inability to meet one of the three is considered Qualified Certification, and inability to meet the current year’s financial obligation would be a Negative Certification.
“I don’t think there’s a problem with our system or bargaining, or admin, or kids; it’s a reality of where life is in 2021 and what we’re dealing with. I know other districts are facing the same issues.” Explained Nelson Yamagata, a TUSD Board Member.
Superintendent Asplund continued, explaining that funding for the school, which is based partly on enrollment, is feeling the effect of a modest but incremental decrease in the past years, which has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the requirements facing the Board in this Qualified Certification is the need to move their budget approval process forward by one month in order to meet the county deadline for submission.
As a result of this, the Board voted to move their March meeting forward from Mar. 11 to Mar. 9, which essentially would give HR more time to process any terminations that may need to occur in order to reduce the budget constraints.
The next meeting of TUSD will be on Feb. 25 at 6:15 p.m. and the link can be found on the district website at tusd-ca.schoolloop.com