HSD trustees approve study of possible campus

Instructor Louise Roy works with Neftali Ramos, 11, on creating a clay pinch pot during the first day of their six-week class at the San Benito County Art Council Art Space Jan. 29. This is the second of three after school art sessions. Students will also

Hollister School District trustees decided last week to further study a property that may become the district’s newest campus.
Trustee Elsa Rodriguez was absent, according to Superintendent Gary McIntire, who spoke with the Free Lance last week. Here is a summary of some of the subjects trustees reviewed:
Santana Ranch
Trustees approved using $17,500 in developer fees to contract with the consulting company, Kleinfelder, to assess the risks of locating the district’s newest school at Santana Ranch.
The change was listed as a consent item on the meeting’s agenda, meaning it could be enacted, along with other routine items, without board discussion.
The Santana Ranch housing development, and other proposed projects in the area, caused the nearby LeSalt Water Treatment Facility to increase in size, according to background information in the agenda packet. The expansion has increased the amount of chemicals, including chlorine, located near the property that is being considered as a potential campus.
The study is one more step in the review process that the district must complete before the California Department of Education will approve the property as a suitable home for a campus. The district has yet to acquire the land they are considering, McIntire said. Another item that must be checked before purchase is the site’s soil.
“Until we’re given clearance the soil is appropriate, we can’t even begin to negotiate to purchase the property,” the superintendent told the Free Lance.
Cameras for buses
Trustees also approved an amendment to their contract with the transportation company, First Student, that will allow cameras to be in use on the school buses that carry youth to class each day.
The change was listed as a consent item on the meeting’s agenda, meaning it could be enacted, along with other routine items, without board discussion.
First Student, which provides nationwide transportation services, already installed cameras in its vehicles but they have not been operating, according to the district superintendent, who spoke with the Free Lance.
“They were going in to install them, whether we used them or not,” McIntire said.
Use of the cameras will cost the district $2.29 per day for each bus, or about $613 for the remainder of this school year and $3,200 for the 2016-17 school year, according to background information in the agenda packet. The cameras will go into operation April 4 and will videotape the entrance of the bus and length of the vehicle, according to the same summary.
Signs in Spanish and English will be placed on the buses, alerting students of the changes. The community was also notified with a flyer, McIntire told the Free Lance. District policy already allows for the use of cameras with proper notification, but the district has never sought to use them, the superintendent said.
Arts in schools
The San Benito County Arts Council’s executive director, Jennifer Laine, and program coordinator, Amanda Chiado, also provided a report on the arts and education program, which brings dance, theater and art to students at public schools in the county.
In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the district contributed $21,000 to this kind of education, which was provided through a partnership with the council.
“We get so much out of this program,” McIntire said. “It’s just really quite astounding the level of support to our schools that we get from the agreement and it’s such a broad array of things. Everything from poetry in the classroom to visual and performing arts.”
The district funding toward such activities has been gradually climbing in recent years, from $6,000 in the 2013-14 fiscal year to $11,100 in the 2014-15 fiscal year and $21,100 in the 2015-16 fiscal year, according a PowerPoint shared by the council.

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