State

Modesto Head Start workers will get raise

Despite the plummeting economy, one group of school employees is getting a raise.

Modesto City Schools trustees Monday night approved 3 percent pay raises for Head Start staff, the first salary bump they will receive in four years.

The federally funded early education program is operated at several of the district's school sites and has a separate budget. The federal government is better off financially than the state, officials said during Monday's discussions.

Also Monday, trustees heard a report about the district's effort to better serve families that want to enroll in school. With campuses mostly closed during the summer, officials set up a Web site, www.EnrollModesto.com, so families can learn more about schools and contact a person.

So far, 93 people have inquired about enrollment for the 2009-10 school year.

Trustees approved a resolution allowing staff to temporarily borrow among the district's major funds during the 2009-10 school year. The loans would help the district cover monthly expenses if the state delays payments.

Some of the money borrowed would have to be paid back with interest. The funds that can be tapped include the construction fund, workers compensation reserves and the cafeteria fund.

Trustees appointed Ignacio Cantu Jr. principal of Wilson Elementary School. He was vice principal at Fairview Elementary School for the past three years.

During public comment Monday, two community members spoke to trustees about an upcoming vote on a policy that would allow junior high and high school students to leave school for confidential medical services without their parents' knowledge.

Parent Arnie Conrad tried to clarify questions surrounding the state law requiring that districts notify parents that such a policy can be implemented at schools. The law's intent was not to require districts to adopt the medical services policy, he said.

Trustees voted 4-3 in June to implement the policy, but it comes back for final approval at a future meeting.

Fred Herman of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union urged trustees to stand firm and pass the policy. He said some children live in dysfunctional families with no support network and may need the confidential services.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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