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By Jim Shilander
The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved cutting 61 non-teaching positions due to budget reductions, although only 32 employees will actually be affected by the cuts.
Jodee Brentlinger, assistant superintendent for personnel services, told the board that nearly half of the positions, 29, were currently vacant, and with funding uncertain, it was best to eliminate them.
Of the 32 staffed positions being eliminated, a plurality were 21 instructional assistant jobs, as well as 10 positions in the district’s bilingual programs. Trustee Ellen Addonizio voted against the measure.
The board also approved spending more than $1.6 million to outfit 36 additional campuses with wireless internet connectivity upgrades. Twenty schools, including San Clemente, Dana Hills and Capistrano Valley high schools, were upgraded between 2010 and 2012. The district will be going to bid this winter on connectivity services, which may provide upgrades or lower costs to the district based on what it currently uses.
The board approved a more equitable distribution of funds for debt service on common facilities, such as the new district headquarters in San Juan Capistrano.
Trustee Jim Reardon said the move would better reflect where students actually were and where money was collected.
Board President John Alpay, who ultimately joined a unanimous board in approving the move, expressed concern about San Clemente residents having paid for a high school (San Juan Hills) that they had not yet been able to utilize.
“In effect, we built a high school for the benefit of others in the district, but won’t receive any benefit from it for years,” Alpay said.
Under the new plan, funds received from renting out office space in the headquarters facility will go directly to paying down debt service as well.
The trustees also approved seeking a waiver from the state for an attendance drop at the district’s six high schools on December 21. Staff blamed the decrease on rumors shared via social media of a potential violent incident. Attendance at the schools dropped by 10 percent on that day, endangering state funds. State funding is measured by average daily attendance in schools, so a large drop on a particular day could cost the district funding. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., had taken place a week prior.
Reardon opposed the measure. He noted that December 21 was the final day before Christmas break, and said many students likely stayed home for that reason, not Sandy Hook.
“To me, this goes to a calendar making question at CUSD,” Reardon said. “This is a false premise… It’s not Sandy Hook, it ‘s the need for better calendar making.”
As part of the application, staff said it will include information about the date being the last day before the holiday as part of the application, staff said.