At their Jan. 18 regular meeting, Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) trustees approved a new potential position at school sites, addressed the effects of winter storms and discussed new arts funding.

The position would be an alternative education teacher to oversee students struggling in their classrooms. Currently, there is an alternative education center for these individuals, though the designated adult overseeing that classroom does not teach course subjects. A student could attend the alternative education classroom instead of their normal classroom for a few periods due to behavior issues, as an alternative to being sent home. Additionally, times could vary between a few days and months.

Robert L. McCaffrey Middle School plans to implement its own center with a designated teacher. This center would provide targeted support for students who are failing multiple classes or are at risk of suspension from behavior issues in their normal classrooms. The program would consist of no more than 20-25 students, to allow individual needs to be met. Additionally, the children would still go to lunch, assemblies and physical education with the rest of their peers. The board unanimously approved the alternative education teacher position.

The board also approved emergency closure request forms for the time period that the district’s schools were closed due to unprecedented storms earlier this month. If approved, the schools will not have to make up this day at the end of the year. The California Department of Education is expected to approve the request as the governor proclaimed a state of emergency prior to the closures.

“I want to thank our parents and our families for being flexible and reading their emails and text messages that were going out when we were trying to make decisions on what to do,” Superintendent Lois Yount said. “I also want to thank our first responders and those who helped us in need, and many people were very impacted by the weather over the last couple weeks. Our district maintenance and operations and grounds crew worked early mornings, nights; they were out on call … to make sure our schools were safe, making repairs and cleaning things up.”

Because of the passage of Proposition 28 in last year’s general election, the district is projected to receive half a million dollars to fund arts education. Eighty percent of the funding is to be spent on staffing for arts subjects.

The district has three years to spend the funding from the year it is received. This is estimated to be around $500,000 per year for the district based on enrollment rates, although this number will be finalized later on.

City staff distinguished the Proposition 28 funding from the existing Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant. The grant can be used for history, science, math and operational costs, among other things. However, the new funding can only be used specifically for arts education, such as dance, music and graphic design.

Another difference between these two funds is the mandatory board approval of a plan for the block grant, which is expected to be presented to the board in the coming months. Plans for the new funding from Proposition 28 will also be provided to the board, but board approval is not needed to implement those proposals.

The board also approved a collective bargaining agreement with the local school support staff union. This consists of an 8% salary increase, which will be retroactive to July 2022. Also approved was an 8% salary increase for unrepresented district employees, as well as an increase for the master’s degree stipend from $1,000 to $2,000. This is an annual stipend awarded to teachers upon earning their master’s degree.

Also approved was an updated job description for the school counselor position. The district has had difficulty finding qualified counselor candidates in recent years. The new description was written with the help of current school counselors in the district in order to better explain the position’s day-to-day tasks.

The next board meeting will take place on Feb. 15.