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Education employees get $10,000 training

Consistent training is essential, superintendent says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County Office of Education offered a training extravaganza to its employees Tuesday. The Western-themed all-day training event took place at the Gold Country Fairgrounds and Nevada Street office of education sites in Auburn. The budget for the annual training event ran $10,000 to $12,000, according to Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, superintendent of schools for the Office of Education. Several local residents feel the money could have been better spent. Callers to the Journal reported tri-tip steaks and other lavish offerings at taxpayer expense. Some found the lunch particularly offensive in light of recent staff layoffs. The event offered training in sexual harassment prevention, child abuse reporting, a social networking policy, appropriate use of e-mail and crisis response, according to Garbolino-Mojica. Training in sexual harassment prevention for managers and training in child abuse reporting for new employees are mandated by the state, but the Office of Education mandates the annual training for its entire staff. Tuesday afternoon staff broke into groups with their respective departments and continued training on more specific topics in Office of Education conference rooms on Nevada Street, Garbolino-Mojica said. Garbolino-Mojica said up to 500 employees located throughout Placer County were expected to attend the event. Employees traveled down from the Tahoe area and up from Roseville, and several employees are expected to get reimbursed for their mileage. The office no longer offers bus service for the event like it has in the past, Garbolino-Mojica said. Garbolino-Mojica said lunch was offered to employees because they might not have a chance to pick any up. “The training is the whole day, and we provide lunch for them as a courtesy,” she said. “We like to just make it easier for our employees.” The cost of the event is funded through the office’s County Services Fund, and the majority of the money went toward renting the fairgrounds facility. Training presentations were all presented by Office of Education staff,” Garbolino-Mojica said. Garbolino-Mojica said the event’s cost wouldn’t take a toll on the office’s budget. “We have a balanced budget,” she said. “We have had staff reductions, but those reductions have been based on efficiencies, not on finances.” Garbolino-Mojica said she isn’t aware of whether or not offering the training at the office’s various sites throughout the county would save money, because the event has always been held in a central location. Holding the event in one area is more efficient in regards to time and offers a consistent training for all employees, Garbolino-Mojica said. “It’s not safe for our children to have adults who are trained without consistency,” she said. The Office of Education trains school employees such as teachers and principals two or three times a week throughout the school year, Garbolino-Mojica said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to spend one day training our staff,” she said. Amy Rivera, who works out of the Office of Education’s Newcastle Maintenance Yard, said while she thought the training was a good idea, she would have liked to be working Tuesday. “(In) Maintenance, because the school year is getting ready to go back, we should be on our sites … but we are happy to come here,” Rivera said. Pamela Trafton, a psychologist who works with special education students in Placer County, said the event was beneficial. “We learned a lot of new things that are going on, but I think one of the best things is (seeing each other, because) so many of us are so busy during the school year, we don’t really get a chance to see each other.” Dorothy Hall Overton, a former Auburn Union School District teacher, said she disagrees with the amount of money spent on the training. “It just seems to me maybe there would be a better way to train personnel that are working directly with kids that would be more cost-effective,” Overton said. Karen Acosta, a teacher in Rocklin, said she may have been given training similar to the Office of Education staff, but it was years ago. “We were given paperwork, but that was a few years back,” Acosta said. Acosta and Emily Dallosta, a teacher in Grass Valley, said they thought it might be more efficient for the Office of Education to send trainers out to various sites. Acosta said she thinks the cost of the event is too high. “It just seems like a lot of money,” Acosta said. “It just seems like there would be other ways to cut down costs.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com