New Auburn Union schools administrative post proposal sparks concerns

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A proposal to create a new Auburn Union School District administrative post is under fire by critics questioning the cost and the need. Under a proposal introduced to the district board at its meeting last week, the Auburn elementary school district would create a new “coordinator of special education” management position. The indicated annual salary range is $62,948 to $76,584, not including health and other benefits. The proposal drew criticism before the meeting from retired special education teacher Mary Cleary, who questioned the addition of another administrator. “Before adding yet another administrator, the AUSD board needs to think about the needs of their students and the teachers who work in classrooms that lack basic supplies,” Cleary said. “Auburn is a very small district and doesn’t need more managers that don’t work directly with children.” District Superintendent Michele Schuetz said Tuesday that the special education coordinator post is a job the district used to have and would provide coordination for many of the new programs now being taken on. The district, which has a total enrollment of 2,119 students, currently has 243 eligible for special education programs and 23 more pending. In addition, 30 students are in Placer County-administered special-education programs. Schuetz said the district would be able to afford creating the new post if an existing staff member is hired and the position the existing staff member has isn’t “backfilled.” The cost increase under that scenario would be $8,800 in the first year, she said. The coordinator would work directly under another special-education administrator, District Director of Special Education and Student Services Julie Kehoe. The board took no action and there was no vote on what was a recommendation for a new job description, Schuetz said. The proposed post would coordinate and monitor the district’s special education and student services programs, according to a job description presented at last Wednesday’s board meeting. Among the duties accompanying the position would be monitoring special education laws and regulations, assisting in coordinating staff training, assisting with budgeting, assisting with hearings and mediations with families, and assisting with special education staff meetings. Becky Klug, a parent of students in the neighboring Placer Hills School District, also questioned the need for a new administrator with the Auburn district. Klug said she was “astounded” when she learned of the proposal, when Placer Hills has reduced the number of administrators and cut programs in response to reduced budgets. “As I remember, they (Auburn Union) closed a school, gave up libraries, laid off staff, increased class size, begged the electorate to pass a parcel tax, and continue to cry ‘poor’ at every turn,” Klug said.