At a glance

What: Special meeting, Fontana Unified School District board

Why: To discuss reinstating the district's comprehensive counseling program and the school district police department's purchase of 14 rifles

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: John Piazza Education Center, 9680 Citrus Ave. Fontana

FONTANA - Flash back to the tumultuous school year of 2011.

The Fontana Unified School District was facing a large deficit and desperately seeking ways to trim its budget.

At a special meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the school board will consider restoration of the comprehensive counseling program now that the district's budgetary dilemmas have eased through cost-cutting moves and California voters' approval of Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30.

Billed as a tax hike to rescue the state's schools, it is expected to raise some $6billion to prevent further school cuts.

The school counselor issue and the school police department's recent purchase of 14 military-style rifles were moved to the special meeting to allow more time for deliberations and comments, Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks said.

The school board still have its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Olsen-Binks said.

Board member Leticia Garcia, who asked that both items be placed on this week's agenda, said she reluctantly voted for the counselor cuts two years ago and never intended for the program to be replaced permanently.

The district's 68 counselors were replaced with people in two job categories with different funding sources.

"Personal, social, emotional and behavioral guidance" was handled by a job category called a "comprehensive student support providers," said Lisa Rivero, the director of categorical programs.

There were also academic pathway advisers who helped students with class scheduling issues.

Pat Mazzulli, president of the Fontana Teachers Association, said that "we have always been for returning to the comprehensive counseling program.

"There are situations where kids are not (in) a high-risk situation and they may not be able to get the services they need under the existing program," Mazzulli said.

"The whole idea of school safety has been focused on what has been going on with the police - and it shouldn't be," Mazzulli said.

"Student counseling services should be regarded as an important aspect of school safety," Mazzulli said.

"We need to take a bigger and more comprehensive view. The concentration on the weapons (school) police use is way out of proportion," he said.

Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks said it will be difficult to make a definitive decision on the school counselors Thursday night as new formulas for dividing up state funds to school districts have not been finalized - and the governor's budget has not been approved.

At last month's board meeting, Garcia and Sophia Green both said they had concerns about the school district's police force being armed with rifles - and that the decision was made without board approval.

In a letter to school district parents, Police Services Chief Billy Green wrote that "the law enforcement rifle is a tool which provides officers increased accuracy, increased stopping power and enhances the distance in which an officer can eliminate a threat to your child's life."

"When officers are off-duty, the rifles are stored at the police department in a vault. The vault is monitored by a school police employee 24-hours-a-day, Green wrote.

The guns will be checked out by officers who have completed a 40-hour course and secured in their cars, Green wrote.

Officers assigned to high schools may secure the rifle in their office safe - only when the officer is present at the school, Green wrote.


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