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Modesto union asks for more cash to keep teachers on the job

Would an extra $5,000 a year help good teachers stay in Modesto's neediest schools?

The Modesto Teachers Association wants to find out.

At the Modesto City Schools Board of Education meeting Monday night, the teachers union handed over its initial contract proposals, which include $1,000 to $5,000 stipends for teachers at schools deemed underperforming by the No Child Left Behind Act.

"I think it's a fair request," MTA executive director Barney Hale said before the meeting. "Because of the extra work and pressure these people are under, we've got to find a way to make it viable for teachers to stay at those schools."

Those schools in the last stages of sanctions under No Child Left Behind are El Vista, Tuolumne, Kirschen, Marshall, Burbank, Bret Harte, Shackelford and Robertson Road elementary schools and Hanshaw Junior High School. Those schools have been restructured, and teachers are evaluated regularly by district staff.

Contract bargaining for the 2007-2008 school year starts next week, and the district has some requests of its own.

Most of Modesto City Schools' 41-page proposal outlined how teachers will be evaluated, including a "pre-assistance" program to identify teachers who are "at risk" of a low performance ranking on their regular evaluation.

"We don't want teachers that don't perform well. But on the other hand, we don't want teachers singled out because maybe they disagree with the principal or they're mavericks of some sort because of the way they present the curriculum," Hale said.

A group of foreign-language teachers told board members that textbooks and workbooks for some Spanish classes have not arrived for this school year.

The textbook shortages affect 166 to 225 students at each of three schools -- Modesto, Downey and Davis high schools -- in Spanish for Spanish speakers, Advanced Placement Spanish literature and Advanced Placement Spanish language courses. Beyer, Enochs and Johansen high schools have fewer students without books.

Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Craig Ryd-quist said textbooks and workbooks would be in classrooms by Oct. 19. He said textbooks were back-ordered by the publisher but admitted the district failed to order workbooks with enough leeway for students to have them by the start of school.

"We failed to do that in a timely manner," Rydquist said.

In other action, the board:

  • Presented an enrollment report for 2007-2008 that shows the district lost 594 students this year. The greatest loss comes from kindergarten through sixth grade, with a decrease of 299 students. The district's enrollment stands at 30,424 this year.
  • Gave recognition of a "Courageous and Heroic Act" to Marlin Sumpter, director of child welfare and attendance for Modesto City Schools. Sumpter helped rescue two people from drowning while on vacation with his wife in Carmel. He shattered his left shoulder in five places during the rescue.
  • "You're a hero, Marlin," Superintendent Arturo Flores said to the capacity crowd, who rose in a standing ovation. "It's clear to me that we have the right person serving as director of child welfare and attendance."

    Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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