Preliminary budget calls for small increase in Taft’s Staff


A preliminary budget for Taft High School calls for the school to increase its staffing level slightly and to hire an additional assistant principal, while a capital improvement project will include the restoration of the school’s brick.

"That means none of our faculty will be displaced and will be remaining in their positions," acting Taft principal Carolyn Rownd said at the May 6 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council. The approximately $17 million budget is slightly higher than last year’s due to a projected enrollment increase from about 3,200 to 3,250 this fall, Rownd said.

Rownd said that she hopes that the school can hire five additional staff members and increase the number of assistant principals from three to four. She said that it is important that students attend school at the start of the semester so the school does not lose funding based on attendance.

The extra administrative position is needed to help faculty members with the school’s transition to a school with a full International Baccalaureate Program curriculum, which requires training for all staff members, Rownd said. The program’s philosophy stresses that critical thinking be incorporated throughout the curriculum and that students work on independent projects.

Rownd said that the budget is preliminary and that she is waiting for additional information before it is approved. The LSC held a special meeting Tuesday evening, May 20, to approve the budget.

Rownd also reported that she recently learned that an infrastructure improvement project at Taft will include a "restoration power wash" of the exterior of the building. "It will significantly bring the building back to what it was 80 years ago," she said.

Decades of pollutants and weather have taken a toll on the brick and terra cotta exterior, Rownd said. The project also includes new science labs and lockers for the school.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a motion calling for the standard student fee to increase from $243 to $250 next year. The fee includes a new $20 charge for the International Baccalaureate Program that will help fund student projects. Students may face additional fees, including charges for art and music classes and a gym uniform.

It also was announced at the meeting that 51 percent of the 300 parents who filled out a survey on the school’s dress code said that the code does not serve its intended purpose. The dress code, which requires that students wear a white collared shirt and dark pants or blue jeans, was implemented about 15 years ago to address concerns about gangs and inappropriate clothing.

The students who conducted the survey are asking the school to revise the dress code to provide more options. The surveys were filled out at report card pickup day.

Rownd said that there is a lot of resistance among faculty members to the idea of changing the dress code. Students also are permitted wear clothing with the Taft logo which is sold at the school, and the administration occasionally waives the dress code for students who are participating in a charity fund-raiser.

It also was announced that Taft may need to purchase more computers, including tablets and laptops, to in the next few years meet new requirements for administering standardized tests. The council authorized the purchase of about 30 new Chromebook computers at $300 each, and some LSC members said that schools could struggle to find funds for the hundreds of computers which could be required for the testing.

Rownd also reported that the senior class plans to donate a drinking fountain that accommodates water bottles and a new mascot uniform to the school and plans to donate funds to the Taft High School Foundation.

The next regular LSC meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 1. The council may hold several special meetings in June to discuss its search for a replacement for recently retired principal Mary Kay Cappitelli, whom Rownd replaced on a temporary basis.