Pubdate: Wed, 23 June 1999
Source: Tribune, The (CA) 
Copyright: 1999 San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune 
Address: P.O.  Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112 
Author: Maria T. Garcia, The Tribune
Note: Original:


The popular Drug Abuse Resistance Education program received a last-minute
reprieve Tuesday thanks to one of its biggest supporters.

Atascadero Police Chief Dennis Hegwood announced at the Board of Trustees
meeting that his department would fund the DARE program in its entirety if
the district agreed to fund the cost of a school resource officer.

The proposal was too irresistible for the school board to reject. They
agreed to study the possibility of continuing a partnership with the Police

The trustees also voted to adopt the school districts budget for next year,
which includes $1.3 million in cuts, and unanimously approved a pay raise
for classified employees.

Meanwhile, the police chiefs offer to fund DARE elicited cheers and applause
from the crowd, which numbered more than 100 and spilled out of the Kenneth
Beck Building. Among the overflowing audience, some of who resorted to
sitting on the floor, were police chiefs from around the county who attended
the meeting to advocate on behalf of the DARE program.

Now is not the time to cut DARE, said Paso Robles Police Chief Dennis
Cassidy. Now is the time to enhance it. Find the money.

Hegwood agreed.

We cant afford not to fund this program, he told the school board and a room
full of parents and district employees. If funding is an issue, I would like
to propose that the Police Department pick up the full tab for DARE.

District officials proposed scrapping the anti-drug curriculum, which is
taught to elementary school students by a trained police officer, as one way
to balance the $41 million budget. Cutting the program would have saved the
district about $25,000.

Rather than see the program axed, Hegwood said the city would pay the DARE
officers salary if the district paid the school resource officers salary,
each about $62,935. He explained that the districts cost could be offset
with state and federal grants and even offered to help with the application

Hegwood and district officials will meet in the coming weeks to see if they
can hammer out an agreement and will report their findings to the school
board in August.

DARE was not the only victor Tuesday, however.

The school board voted unanimously to give classified employees a pay raise
composed of a 1.5 percent and 2 percent one-time payments based on an
individual employees salary for the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 school years
respectively. The employees will also receive a 2 percent pay raise for the
1999-2000 school year but will not get a chance to renegotiate their
contract until it expires in June 2000.

Were happy, said Mary Ellen Maldonado, a labor relations representative with
the California School Employees Association. The union represents about 318
classified employees in Atascadero, including cafeteria workers, bus drivers
and clerical assistants. This pay raise is long overdue. It has taken us two
years to get to this point.

Penny Webster, a bus driver with the district for 18 years, said the pay
raise falls short of what the union membership wanted but were taking it and
running with it.

In another development, the school board voted 6-1 to adopt the school
districts budget for 1999-2000, cutting $1.3 million in district personnel
and programs without much discussion. The cuts include seven teaching
positions, 36 professional aides, five parent volunteer coordinators, one
secretary and an account clerk.

Trustee Mark Tomes dissented, saying he could not support the cuts. Tomes
also said he did not endorse Superintendent Dan Dodds plan to implement
strategic planning and conflict resolution programs next school year.

I just cannot approve a program without having a clue of what is even
involved, he said. To me its too much money."

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