The February 1st: CUSD school board meeting marked another occasion in which ACE Psychologists, the Association of Clovis Educators, has come to the school board projecting their importance to both schools and more importantly, students within the school district.
School psychologists take the lead in advancing students’ communication skills in addition to assisting in their emotional and behavioral needs.
A group of twelve speakers spoke during the public presentation portion of the meeting and voiced their concerns over the unequal pay amongst School Psychologists in CUSD as compared to neighboring school districts.
Each of the twelve speakers mentioned the importance of school psychology, and used up the full length of their 2-minute time slots to argue on behalf of school psychologists, using supporting evidence in the form of statistics as well as illustrating why they believe school psychology is key to child development.
The second to last speaker called on CUSD to recognize their own calling of being “the best they can be” when they said, “Let’s truly be the best and show the community that CUSD is serious about prioritizing the mental and behavioral health of its staff and students and we need your partnership to make that happen.”
Speaker six asked the school board to, “Push administration to put them on a front line fight to care for our kids.”
Another concern was brought forth by speaker four when they related their concerns to the pandemic.
“We can all agree we’ve gone through a lot.” The speaker then went on to speak about school board member Dr. Fogg’s comments from the past in which they claimed he mentioned the toll the pandemic took on everyone whether it was from school closures, split days, or arts and sports being canceled or scaled back.
“It took a toll on all of us…how can we possibly imagine the toll it took on the students?”
ACE psychologists have the training and qualifications ready to combat the toll the pandemic took on students in CUSD, but speaker four stated that they are “overwhelmed” by the demands and high stress that have been placed on their jobs.
With more and more school psychologists leaving to other higher paying districts, those who have stayed are now being asked to keep up with even more of a workload.
One school psychologist stated that they were the only psychologist in a school of 900 students.
Rounding out to around $15,000-$20,000 less gross pay in CUSD per year when compared to Central and Fresno Unified, Clovis Unified School Psychologists had been awarded a 2% raise upon an 8% inflation spike according to speakers.
The school board did take action on a portion of the budget that did not include the ACE Psychologists as according to Associate Superintendent Barry Jager, CUSD must honor the negotiations they are currently having with ACE Psychologists in order to determine where their specific salary schedule will be.
Jager finished his statement to the board by saying that CUSD staff was looking forward to presenting the “powerful” conversations that they’ve been having in negotiations with ACE Psychologists and CSEA, California State Employees Association, in a move that he called a “tremendous step forward.”
CUSD looks to continue salary negotiations with ACE Psychologists, but when they will come to an agreement is still unclear.
If CUSD decides to find a number that is agreeable, it should mean that CUSD will be paying their school psychologists at a market rate or perhaps even a higher number, meaning they have decided to place an importance on student mental health.
Whether or not they come to that number, ACE Psychologists will continue to fight, just as they proved at this school board meeting, for the satisfaction of some of the district’s hardest workers.