State leaves county educators with $212,000 bill |

State leaves county educators with $212,000 bill

Educators don’t have to wait for all the bad budget news.

In Nevada County, they’ve already heard they’ve been stiffed on a $212,000 grant.

“The governor’s reneging on a grant to train teachers,” Terry McAteer, Nevada County superintendent of schools, told county board of education members last week.

“Is he trying to balance the budget on the backs of teachers?” board member Marianne Slade-Troutman asked McAteer.

“Yes, Marianne,” McAteer replied.

“Well, I think we should sue him,” Slade-Troutman said about the governor.

Board members stopped short of filing a lawsuit, but McAteer asked three superintendents to absorb the cost of paying $500 stipends to teachers who attended week-long training in language arts curricula last summer.

The county office received a grant letter last year from the department of education promising to pay stipends to 85 Nevada County teachers if they attended the training, McAteer said.

In December, the California Department of Education mailed letters to superintendents which McAteer translated as “we’re reneging on our grant and you can file claim a form with no hope of getting the dollars.”

Seventeen teachers in the Union Hill School District spent a week of training in the new Open Court language arts program, Rod Fivelstad, the district’s superintendent said, costing $8,500 that the district may have to absorb.

Forty-one teachers in the Grass Valley School District attended the training and “were promised a stipend from the state,” said Jon Byerrum, superintendent. Most are eligible for a $1,000 stipend because they spent two weeks in training, he said.

“It was a lot of time involved,” Byerrum said.

The county office of education will pay the trainers. McAteer said $21,000 has already been paid and another $58,000 is owed.

The department of education asked districts to submit claim forms by today, but “where are they going to get the money in this budget time?” asked James Meshwert, whose Pleasant Ridge Union School District did not participate in the training. The district has been using Open Court curriculum since 1977.

Byerrum said, “I’m still working on the premise that there’s a chance we’ll get the department of education to reconsider this. The teachers fulfilled their obligation.”

“You can freeze the future and say ‘No more,’ but for teachers who have put in their time, it’s unfair to ask them to bear the brunt of it,” Byerrum said.

McAteer told county board members, “I have no confidence in the state department of education as it stands today.”

California Department of Education officials did not return phone calls over the course of a week.

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