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School district, MUST ink 3-year memorandum of understanding
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A three-year memorandum of understanding between Manteca Unified School District and the Manteca Unified Student Trust Foundation was approved by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

The vote was 6-1, with Wendy King abstaining due to a conflict of interest as she is the executive director of MUST.

This revised memorandum of understanding, or MOU, follows the one that was entered into by MUSD and MUST in September 2011. That MOU, which signifies the school district’s support of the MUST program and “promote healthy, life-long learning” for students the district, expired on June 30.

Under the provisions of the amended contract, the MOU will require an annual review by both parties. Spelled out also are the responsibilities expected from each party, which include the items below.

Manteca Unified will:

• provide forwarded telephone service and an e-mail account to the MUST executive director.

• allow the use of district facilities for MUST meetings in accordance to the district’s policy on facilities fee schedule.

• authorize individual site administrators to sign a MUST support contract holding the district and its employees as well as board members harmless.

For its part, MUST will:

• agree to pay all utility costs associated with the district’s Class I facilities fee schedule.

• agree to provide proof of insurance to hold events.

• require all coaches to be fingerprinted and will notify MUSD if a coach becomes ineligible to do the job based on criminal activity.

• insure that all students participating in MUST programs meet district and school eligibility requirements.

• provide a list of eligible coaches prior to the start of each session for selection.

• reimburse the district at $22 an hour for maintenance of the MUST web site plus all additional associated costs.

MUST officials made their desire to become fiscally independent from the school district last year when they turned down the district’s contribution offer of $75,000. However, it was not going to be given as a lump sum. Depending upon the availability of funds by the cash-strapped school district and pending more budget cuts from Sacramento, the amount was scheduled to be given in increments of $25,000 payable in August 2011, January 2012, and March 2012.

In turning down the cash infusion from the district’s general fund, King said during a MUST board meeting  in August 2011 held at the school district office, that by making the move to fiscally wean itself completely, the organization was staying with the “original intent” of the foundation and be able to “privately all work together, volunteering our time” and doing the job they need to do without being bogged down by a lot of bureaucracy and being scrutinized “under the public microscope.”

MUST has always planned to be an independent entity; it was just happening earlier than they had hoped, King also said at the time.

Board vice chairman Bill Van Ryn, adding to King’s comments, said it was great that the district wanted to help but that they could not continue to rely on that. At the same time, he admitted that it was going to be “brutal” paring back the sports’ gate and registration fees especially in a “brutal economy.” However, he said they were encouraged by the public’s acceptance and support of the MUST’s student programs.

“It’s going to be tight but we can do it. I believe it can be done,” commented MUST treasurer Carol Davis who was speaking from experience. She is the executive director of Give Every Child a Chance, a non-profit after-school tutoring program whose success has surpassed all expectations.

Roger Goatcher, MUST board chairman, also said at that time that the organization will be able to continue operating with built-up reserves which will allow them to stay afloat for another year. Those reserves were from gate fees collected from MUST-sponsored sports events plus donations and fund-raising proceeds from the annual Pumpkin Run, he said.

Founded in 2006, MUST was launched at a time when dire budget constraints made it impossible for the school district to continue offering students life-enriching activities and programs such as after-school sports activities and art classes. The grass-roots effort was supported by hundreds of parents, area businesses and individuals in the community.