ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Union School District Board of Trustees voted to eliminate five child guidance aide positions at Wednesday night’s meeting.
The aides provided social and emotional support for students in kindergarten through sixth grades. This included everything from how to handle bullies to coping with change, according to Maria Waskin, director of pupil personnel services for the district.
“These are important positions that we would rather not let go, but we have a tough budget situation,” Waskin said.
The five aides alternated between the district’s nine schools, giving each school at least one aide every day. They worked in conjunction with school psychologists, who primarily serve special needs students, Waskin said.
Over eight years, the district was given a $165,000 state grant each year for 15 aides, although at that time they only served kindergarten through third grades. Citing the California budget crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown scrapped the statewide grant, known as the Early Mental Health Initiative, last year with a line-item veto. Brown argued that instead of funding specific programs, the state should let school districts set priorities for spending money.
At a cost of $65,000, the district decided to pay for five aides, rather than 15, itself this school year. Waskin said the aides were eliminated for the following school year due to a difficult budget situation.
In the meantime, she said that the district is looking for other grants or help from foundations to hopefully bring back the aides.
The district also eliminated a nutrition clerk position at Wednesday night’s meeting.