School board votes to keep language teacher

A Mandarin language instructor will stay on this summer and next school year, Laguna Beach Unified School District board members decided at its Tuesday night meeting.

The board approved a contract for Jean Wu to teach Mandarin to Thurston Middle School students this summer and after school next year, and to Laguna Beach High School freshmen after school next year.

The district will pay Wu, an independent contractor, $14,040 for the summer and next school year and the money will come out of the district's general fund, according to a district staff report.

Mandarin has been offered for five years and Wu has taught students for several years, the report said.

Students will learn how to read, write, listen to and speak Mandarin.


Proposition 30 funds OK'd

Board members also approved $578,000 in Proposition 30 funds for teacher salaries and benefits for the 2012-13 school year.

Proposition 30's passage in November increased the state sales tax for California residents and boosted personal income tax rates for upper-income taxpayers, the state's Department of Education website said. It also created the Education Protection Act, which provides a new funding source to substitute for a revenue shortfall.

The money will be available in June and will be used to fund the teaching of classes in grades 6 through 12, according to a district staff report.

"Funds will cover a full-time teacher at Thurston Middle School and extra periods for teachers at Thurston and Laguna Beach High School," Dean West, the district's assistant superintendent of business services, wrote in an email.

"In order to maintain class sizes, our first option at the secondary level is to add a sixth period assignment to a teacher," West said.

The board held a public hearing before voting as required by state law.


Field maintenance services

The school board voted 5-0 to allow the district to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for landscape and athletic field maintenance services.

Routine tasks such as aerating — punching holes into a lawn to allow in water, oxygen, fertilizers, and other nutrients — fields, fertilizing and over-seeding require separate quotes and negotiations for each school, a district staff report said.

The district's current contract with Artistic Maintenance Inc. runs through June 30, district facilities director Ted Doughty wrote in an email.

Artistic has provided landscape services to the district since 2001.

"I fully expect [Artistic] to be one of several who will submit a response to our RFP," Doughty said. "In contrast to our current agreement, the proposed contract language includes new items such as regularly-scheduled tennis court cleaning."

Staff will review and negotiate with prospective companies and ask the board to recommend a contract, which will be paid from the district's general fund.

The district is paying $182,000 this year for landscape services, the staff report said.

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