Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/17/2011 06:36:41 PM PST

FONTANA – Despite a warning that the current school year is likely to end up with a $2.6 million deficit, the Fontana Unified School District Board on Wednesday night voted to bring back 10 laid off locker room attendants at a cost of $285,000.

The decision followed a lengthy presentation from physical education teachers who described potentially dangerous situations resulting from the layoffs where there is only one adult supervising 250 students – and not all of them in the same area.

“The board thinks it is a perfect world. But it’s not….in large numbers teenage are more likely to do things they are not supposed to,” said Nicole Robinson, a physical education coach at A.B. Miller High School.

On top of the dangerous environment resulting from the layoffs, coaches spend precious class time on matters formerly handled by locker room attendants.

Frequently these issues take some 20 minutes to resolve, leaving just 20 minutes for the physical education class, Robinson said.

Interim Superintendent Alejandro Alvarez, who also is the district’s top financial administrator, cautioned the board about the wholesale return of services and employees who were slashed in spring.

Preliminary budget calculations show that on top of this year’s deficit, the district could be looking at a shortfall of $6.3 million in the 2012-2013 school year, and $4.6 million in the 2013-2014 school year, he said.

Following Alvarez’ budget statements, Leticia Garcia, board vice president, proposed that the locker room attendants be brought back for the remainder of this year.

A full year’s cost would be $475,000, Alvarez said.

After the meeting, Garcia said that the board and administrators will find a way to pay for locker room attendants nex year or they will develop another way to assist physical education teachers.

Board member Kathy Binks, said in an interview Thursday, that she did not want to spend the money, but she was “more concerned about the safety of students and teachers.”

“The board listened to teachers and I was happy with their decision,” Robinson said.

After receiving proposals from 11 law firms, the board voted to hire the Los Angeles-based law firm Meyers-Nave to be its legal council.

The decision ended the board’s 10-year relationship with Tom Sawyer, a Rialto attorney who provided legal advice to the board for $150 per meeting.

To read entire story, click here.