By Jim Steinberg Staff Writer
Created: 08/18/2011 05:37:08 PM PDT

FONTANA – The Fontana Unified School District restored personnel and services to the tune of about $6.5 million this week.

Among the approvals granted for personnel, were 12 positions for a new job description called academic pathway advisers.

This group will provide education and career advisement to students and parents.

The advisers were the second largest item among the service restorations approved at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

The largest was $2.4 million for maintenance and operations previously cut from the budget.

“We don’t want to not do preventative work because it will cost us money in the long run,” said Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks.

The advisors is the second new job category created in the district to fill the hole in student services following a board decision on March 8 to lay off all 68 of the district’s counselors.

And it drew fire from Fontana Teachers Association President Pat Mazzulli, who said that the district is replacing its comprehensive counseling program “with a fragmented program that leaves gaps in services.”

In July, the board approved the creation of 30 comprehensive student support providers (CSSPs).

Technically, these are not counselors. But the qualifications are more than a little similar. Applicants for these jobs must possess a master’s degree, a valid California Pupil Personnel Services Credential, and three years counseling experience.

The funding for these positions came from a carry-over in categorical funding, the type of funding that which can only be spent for specific purposes.

The CSSP positions were from a program targeting at-risk students.

The $1.4 million approved this week for the academic pathway advisor jobs will be paid for out general funds and focuses on another function once handled in the district’s comprehensive counseling program.

After the unanimous vote approving the pathway advisors, Mazzulli told the board that he was disappointed that the model for collaborative decision making was no longer in place within the district.

The Fontana Teachers Association, which represents “the education professionals which work every day with the students” had no input into the restoration of counselor services in the district, he said.

Also speaking against this action was Joe Tonan, president of the Claremont Faculty Association, who told that board that several years ago when the Claremont Unified School District needed to lay off counselors, his organization had conversations with the district on how to restore those positions.

“We urge the board to honor seniority rights…to do what has been done in other districts,” he said.

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