MODESTO — The Modesto City Schools board tonight will consider another step toward building the Enochs High School pool and take up student fees, including an option to charge for bus rides to school.
If approved, the pool project would be sent for state review and bid documents prepared. A projected time line indicates construction could start next spring and finish a year later.
The immediate cost to be approved is $134,000 in architect's fees.
The pool's cost under the design produced is $3 million, which is $500,000 less than early estimates. The figure includes the pool, night lighting and a single-use unisex restroom. The pool would accommodate 10 25-yard competition lanes and "floating goal" water polo games.
Funding for the pool project comes from fees on new development, with Village I homeowners having contributed their share. Still to come are fees from housing developments in north Modesto and Riverbank that are not yet built. The district could essentially loan itself the anticipated $163,100.
District policies on all student fees are up for a makeover. Recent legislation and court decisions limit such fees and prohibit them for educational necessities such as textbooks. This is a first reading, with no action being taken.
The new policy, however, gives the district options to add fees it doesn't have, including a charge for home-to-school bus service, with exemptions for indigent and disabled students. It could charge for daily runs to ROP classes held at its Reno Avenue complex.
Bus fees were listed as acceptable in a California Department of Education web site posting March 20, and board member Rubén Villalobos said that as a child he paid a quarter each way to ride to school.
'No plans' for bus fee
"There is a history of that in this district and this would just keep that option open," Villalobos said. However, it's not likely to happen because it could cut attendance, he added. "This is giving us flexibility to charge, but we have no plans to do so," he said.
New fees approved in policy would not have to come back to the board to be implemented, he said, but "I can guarantee you if we were going to start charging for transportation, that would come back to the board."
Reached by text while out of state, Superintendent Pam Able said, "There is nothing in the works to charge for transportation. I guess the bottom line is we have some ability to charge, but the likelihood that we would is probably not great."
No districts in Stanislaus County charge for daily school bus rides. Paradise Unified School District in Butte County and Travis Unified School District in Fairfield charged for bus service this year. Travis families paid $275, $165 and $55 a year for the first, second and third child, respectively. Paradise does not list its fees online.
Also on the list of potential fees is a tuition charge for "an out-of state and out-of-country student." It does not give any indication of what tuition might cost. The CDE list allows tuition for students whose parents "are actual and legal residents of an adjacent foreign country."
Able said she was unaware of the reference and that there are no plans to charge any students tuition.
Villalobos said that could apply to foreign exchange students or out-of-state kids staying temporarily with relatives, but not to students here without legal residency. "That's something we've never charged and we would never charge," he said.
Other allowable fees under the proposed policies:
Preschool and child care: The state's list specifically prohibits charging for state preschool services, but allows charges for district preschools and after-school programs.
Eye protection: Charging shop students for eye goggles appears to be allowed under the Modesto policy, but CDE guidelines say eye protection must be free for use in class.
P.E. uniforms: The policy appears to allow a charge for these, though the state lists gym suits for P.E. classes as "necessary supplies" that if required must be free.
Records: Students applying to colleges or seeking verification of coursework could have to pay for copies of their transcripts after the first two.
Parent handbooks: The books of rules and class listings are online, but there could be a cost for paper copies.
New on paper would be fees for medical insurance for field trips and all costs for out-of-state field trips, though in practice such trips are being paid for by fund-raising.
See the California Department of Education advisory on student fees at www.cde.ca. gov/re/lr/fm/fma1201.asp.
SCHOOL BOARD WATCH
The Modesto City Schools board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the staff development center, 425 Locust St. The agenda is posted at http://bit.ly/ MCSmeetings. Board members are expected to:
Rule on a raft of support staff job cuts. Union President Aaron Castro said most are label changes or vacant posts being eliminated. Castro, head of the California School Employee Association Modesto Chapter, said no staff members would lose their jobs under the proposal, though a number would lose enough hours to cost them their district health care coverage. More than 50 preschool aides would permanently lose the eight days taken as furloughs this year.
Consider approving new roofing for Beyer and Davis high schools, and Beard, Robertson Road and Rose Avenue elementary schools, costing about $600,000.
Vote on replacing varsity softball backstops at Johansen, Downey and Modesto high schools; replacing gym bleachers to Beyer; and accepting a Modesto Junior College donation of a diving board for Davis.