Lodi Unified board OKs hiring school resource officers, raises sub pay
The Lodi Unified School District’s Board of Education meeting tackled multiple topics on Wednesday night, the first of which arose during a discussion about hiring four Lodi police officers to work full-time as school resource officers.
Vice President George Neely of the school board opposed the approval of $301,410 to hire the officers, saying that the school district should not have to pay for the service.
“I have a problem paying the city to have police at our schools full time. It’s not a football game, it’s not a rock concert, it’s not a WWE event. We shouldn’t have to pay them to do the job they already get paid for,” Neely said.
The motion passed with a six-to-one vote, with Superintendent Dr. Cathy NicholsWasher explaining that the school district would only have to pay for part of the service, with the Lodi Police Department covering the remainder of the cost.
One agenda item that passed unanimously was the decision to increase the pay for classified substitute teachers by four percent, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Classified substitutes last received a pay raise on Aug. 16, 2016, according to Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Mike McKilligan.
The next discussion took place when Chief Business Officer Leonard Kahn and Director of Technology Services Edith Holbert reported on the Technology Advisory Subcommittee’s summary from their meeting regarding issuing Chromebooks for students to take home. The district currently has 28,670 students and 37,322 Chromebooks as of Nov. 3, according to Holbert, and can therefore afford to provide the laptop computers to students in secondary education.
“We recommend Chromebooks for all seventh- through 12th-grade students with a hard clamshell case. We also discussed kindergarten through sixth-grade students checking out Chromebooks as needed, issuing earbuds to all students at the start of every school year and device insurance for parents to purchase in the event of accidental damage,” Holbert said.
Board member Daryl Talken questioned whether parents would bear the cost of repairing or replacing the Chromebooks, but Neely explained that some students already repair laptops, and might be able to assist with this potential issue. Neely also explained that Chromebooks for seventh-and eighthgraders would remain at their respective schools at the end of each year, while ninththrough 12th-graders would keep theirs throughout their entire high school careers, with the possibility of being able to purchase them at reduced prices upon graduation, once the laptops reach the end of their four-year operational lifespan.
“One of the greatest things about going digital and bringing Chromebooks home is that students can’t say that they forgot their homework, because it’s in the Cloud,” Neely said. Holbert then explained that the district would initially issue Chromebooks already in their possession, and would only have to purchase the hard cases and earbuds. When School Board President Ron Heberle expressed concerns that students carrying Chromebooks to and from school might become targets for theft, Neely explained that there would likely be little or no black market demand for a $200 laptop that can only access the school district’s network. Holbert also used the Chromebooks’ cost to illustrate how they might eventually replace textbooks for students, saying that the average cost of textbooks for a single student for one year is approximately $250. Neely concluded the meeting by explaining that the logistics of the plan are still being finalized, and that he wanted feedback from the school board before proceeding.