In a 4-1 vote, the board of trustees approved salary negotiations with the Winters Area Education Association on Thursday, Jan. 18.
Although trustee Mike Olivas was the sole board member who participated in the bargaining, board president Robert Warren voiced concern about the deal, which was targeted at the reduction in professional development for teachers in the district.
The paid school year will now shrink from 185 days to 183 days, effectively increasing the salary for the remaining days by 1.2 percent.
“It’s discouraging to give up professional development,” said Warren, “from what I hear, everybody in the room was sideways.
“I don’t think this was a decision that was made in the best interest of our kids. I wish we would have stepped back and taken a break.
“The agreement I don’t think anyone is happy with,” he continued.
After the roll call vote was taken, Trustee Carrie Green offered her opinion.
She said that she was in favor of the added professional development when it happened, and laments its absence.
“I thought the addition satisfied a couple of screws that needed to be tightened up. We are very concerned about professional development and we consider it extremely valuable. I don’t like how this looks on paper,” said Green.
“It feels like a big step back. While my vote is yes, my request to Dr. Cutler is that the district look back into policy and find professional development that our staff finds value in.”
Superintendent Todd Cutler gave a comment following the meeting that the district remains committed to professional development.
“In my mind, we’re still going to have professional development, and teachers are going to come to professional development.
“I’m confident that the dedicated staff will show up and learn,” said Cutler.
According to chief negotiator for WAEA Sue Bridge, no further funds for salary were on the table, and the reduction in workdays was the only method of seeking fair compensation. She also confirmed that all parties present at the negotiations: Olivas, Cutler, Chief Business Officer Veronica Moreno and Bridge along with six other members of WAEA agreed on the terms.
Halfway through the school year, district principals updated the board on the state of their school sites.
WES principal Greg Moffitt reported that a new professional development fixture at his site will be for teachers from each grade level to learn about next generation science standards and use this information to pilot new science units.
At the Shirley Rominger campus, staff has started a peace patrol, where students on the beat reward their peers for good citizenship.
“The Rominger peace patrol is catching people doing the right thing,” said Moffitt, “Waggoner starts that program this week.’
Moffitt also noted that career readiness education is being promoted as the elementary school is inviting more community professionals to talk about their jobs to students.
At the middle school, principal John Barsotti highlighted that training on amplify, a web-based curriculum is going well and that the SOAR program to promote good citizenship at his site continues to be successful.
High school vice principal Justin Young proudly reported that counselor Marcella Heredia received the Education Award from the Mexican American Concilio of Yolo County, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing need and merit based scholarships to county students.
He also noted that the Link Leader program, where high school seniors provide support to freshman has been a great addition to the site, and continues to show benefits into the school year.
Matt Moran, principal of Wolfskill Continuation High School, which is transitioning to the Career Readiness Academy, also gave a positive report for his site.
He praised the success of the Wolfskill News and Review, which is composed entirely by students under the supervision of Express editor Debra DeAngelo.
“The class is getting those students who won’t write to sit down with a pen and paper,” said Moran.
Coordinator of Educational and Informational Technology Micah Studer presented a midterm report on district tech.
He said his department has processed an average of 100 work orders per month, and is able to keep functioning hardware in the hands of students and teachers.
Studer also reported that a clear majority of students and teachers are using Google drive to share and store documents and that 180,000 files were managed through the service in the last six months.
In an interdepartmental collaboration, Studer could switch the Maintenance and Operations work orders to a digital web-based format that his uses for technology issues, making the process more efficient.
The success of navigating technology in a challenging rural setting was recently highlighted by a front-page article in the Los Angeles Times, communicating that Winters, Studer and Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry are resourceful innovators in the fight to level the playing field for rural education.
Roof repairs on the D-wing of the high school were successful.
“80 percent of the D-wing blew off. As of this Monday, it is complete and rain tight,” said director of maintenance and operations Roy Owens, “We only had minimal leaking in D-2.”
Negotiations were unanimously approved between the board of trustees and the Winters Area Pupil Personnel Unit. WAPPSU represents auxiliary staff including counselors, school psychologists and nurses.