TUSD educators seeking 5 percent salary increase
By Becca Sligh
TEMPLETON — The Templeton Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Trustees met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26, and discussed alternative education students’ eligibility for participation in CIF sports.
Kicking off the meeting was recognition for Employee Of The Month, which was awarded to both Matt Hirons and Judy Craig. Hirons has served as a custodian for the district for over 34 years and was praised for keeping an upbeat, positive attitude and displaying an above-and-beyond trait in his work. Craig is a teacher of seventh-grade math as well as the athletic director for Templeton Middle School. Craig fulfills multiple roles and uses different strategies to engage her students in learning and excelling within their education.
During public comment, attendees addressed the board about issues such as salary increases for educators and Templeton Independent Study High School (TISHS) participation in sports.
Christine Ames, a teacher at Vineyard Elementary School, spoke on the 5 percent salary increase that TUSD educators are seeking.
“The money is there in the district’s budget. We need you to back up your words — not with more words, but with a 5 percent increase in salary we are asking,” Ames said to the board. The salary increase will be on the agenda for the next board meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9.
An agenda item regarding Templeton Independent Study High School (TISHS) participation in sports was the topic among many of the public comments to take place.
Background information provided by TUSD meeting minutes states, “On Aug. 26, 2021, the governing board, during a review of the THS Athletics Handbook, determined to keep the policy in place that prevents TISHS students from participating in CIF sports at THS. Board members at the May 25, 2023, regular meeting, requested that we bring the outcome of the committee that reviewed the policy in 2021, back for the board for review.”
In a powerpoint review given by Ian Trejo, assistant superintendent — ed. services, information such as considerations, requirements, and legality were shown on the topic. Trejo noted that both Paso Robles and Atascadero schools currently allow their independent high school students to actively participate in athletics at the comprehensive high schools. While this opportunity would allow TISHS students to participate in sports, TISHS students would need to apply to try out for sports teams. Other points, such as grades/attendance, could create potential challenges in monitoring students’ eligibility; however, it was also mentioned that students could attend both THS and TISHS as a blended student and be able to participate in sports and potentially offset the district’s current recommendation.
In May of 2021, the board accepted the recommendation from the committee that while TISHS students may participate in other extracurricular activities at THS, TISHS students may not play CIF sports at THS unless part of a blended program with restrictions noting that THS and TISHS are recognized as two separate schools.
Although nothing has legally changed since the initial decision in 2021, potential challenges could be presented to the policy through IDEA and Section 504 of the American Disabilities Act. It was also mentioned that some changes could be made since schools needed to require a level of flexibility back in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Trustee Wendi Swan was concerned if TISHS students were allowed to compete on the high school CIF teams, there would be students on one team with different academic expectations and eligibility rules.
“There is a cultural battle going on in our schools, and a divisiveness is not necessarily resolved by making sections for everything,” said Swan, who still understood wanting to allow the TISHS students to play. “Sometimes, we have to decide to get together and get through some stuff.”
She added that “There is more than one side to the whole thing” when it comes to the additional work it will take for staff to allow the students to play.
Trustee Janel Armet motioned for staff to bring TISHS participation in THS sports back to the next board meeting as an action item. Trustee Nelson Yamagata requested outreach to the public for the potential policy change, anticipating there would be a great amount of discussion from the public.
The action item regarding TISHS participation in THS sports was voted to be brought back to the next board meeting for further discussion. The next regularly scheduled TUSD meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6:15 p.m.