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Budget breakdown: TUSD prioritizes spending for 2014-2015 school year
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Students in Amy Hannemans fourth period World History class perform research on computers for an upcoming project. If students choose to do a news broadcast with their research, they will have to complete the project on their own technology since the school does not provide the necessary software. Theres definitely room for improvement, said Hanneman.

Toni Boster, the parent of a student in the Turlock Unified School District, recently remarked how refreshing it is to be able to use the word “spend” rather than “cut” at a TUSD Board of Trustees meeting.  Boster is also chair of the Budget Advisory Committee, which is composed of a variety of stakeholders within the District and serves as an advisory committee to the Board. The advisory committee presented its spending priorities to the Board in March, which were then honed over the past several weeks into nine items. On Tuesday, the Board of Trustees approved these nine expenditures, totaling $1.8 million, lending insight into the District’s spending priorities in the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. These expenditures will be built into the unrestricted 2014-2015 fiscal year budget, which Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal Services Lori Decker will present at the April 15 TUSD Board of Trustees meeting.

1. Technology Replacement — $750,000

"We're looking at increasing technology in the classrooms significantly so that creates two additional areas of need: additional technology support staff and the actual equipment," explained Decker, TUSD assistant superintendent of financial services, at Tuesday's Board of Trustees meeting.

TUSD is looking to not only increase technology equipment, but upgrade the quality of it as well, necessitated by new Common Core curriculum standards. The District also aims to keep enough funds in reserve to replace technology as necessary once it meets its life cycle in order to keep technology up to date.

2. Student intervention programs — $250,000

The new state funding practice, Local Control Funding Formula, requires a Local Control Accountability Plan which outlines districts’ priorities and needs for students as developed for a variety of community and educational stakeholders.  Whether this means expanding a summer school program or hiring additional support teachers for struggling students, these reserves are designated for program development.

3. Major facility repairs — $400,000

These funds are used to attend to major maintenance issues at school sites across the District, which can range from mending a roof to installing a new air conditioning unit. The $400,000 is explicitly reserved for repairs which in financial terminology denotes maintenance items, not improvements or additional construction. These funds are reserved to fix current facilities.

4. Ag farm program support — $150,000

These funds will be used to support the necessary programs needed to facilitate education at the District Ag Farm, which both Pitman High School and Turlock High School agriculture programs will utilize. Equidistant between the two high schools, the Ag Farm is a 10-acre parcel of land off of Taylor Road that will feature livestock units, extensive gardening and probably a crop component. The farm is still in the beginning phases as land is being excavated and prepared.

5. Repair and renovation of the Ag Farm (one-time allocation) —  $150,000

The only one-time allocation of the nine items, these funds will be used to prepare the District Ag Farm for practical use. Most likely, the $150,000 will go towards renovating a house that currently sits on the property.

6. Facility safety and security improvements — $70,000

These funds are set aside for improvements where safety or security on school sites is a concern and are mainly expected to serve as a reserve to be utilized upon need.

"The idea is that we would have a pot of funds to go to if needed," explained Mike Trainor, assistant superintendent of business services.

7. STEM Expansion — $33,000

This relatively small expense will be used to generate a big change as the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math program, or STEM, is currently only offered for 7th grade students at Turlock Junior High. These funds will be used to expand this program to the 8th grade students at TJHS next year. Funds will be used on vital elements of STEM education, from equipment for the students to training for the teachers.

8. Beginning teacher training — $25,000

A program required of new teachers, BTSA is currently run through the Stanislaus County Office of Education and will continue to be so for the 2014-2015 school year. However, this could change in upcoming years as the District is exploring if this is a service that they could offer in-house.

"It's an opportunity for us to personalize the program so that it more closely aligns with our priorities regarding Common Core," explained Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dana Trevethan at the board meeting on Tuesday.

9. Public relations — $10,000

A relatively small sum in comparison to other District expenses, $10,000 is allocated to public relations efforts should the District need to hire a consultant or train administration for response to crisis situations, for example.