Shoreline Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously voted to bring back celebrated bilingual teacher Melissa Riley for the 2010-2011 school year during a packed meeting on Tuesday. Parents, teachers and staff breathed a collective sigh of relief when the board resolved to use an unexpected $87,000 property tax windfall from the district’s general fund rather than West Marin-Inverness School’s reserved site fund to rehire Riley.

“We’re not talking about a luxury here. We’re talking about a first grade teacher’s salary,” said Trustee Jill Sartori, who urged the board to vote in favor of reinstating Riley to her former full-time position.

Riley was one of three local teachers who received notice last March that their positions might be terminated. Thanks to unexpected federal funding last May, the district was able to restore jobs to Anne Halley Harper and Sharon Zarate. Riley was rehired as well, but to half of her former position.

West Marin-Inverness School Principal Anne Harris is thankful that she will not have to sacrifice school site money that she desperately needs for classroom supplies, field trips and other miscellaneous expenses. “The first priority is classroom teachers,” she said. “We’re very united that this is where our priorities are, and that’s where our priorities need to be for our students.”

Though he supported the motion, District Superintendent Dr. Stephen Rosenthal urged sobriety and caution. “We are not out of the financial high water by any stretch of the imagination. Luck’s been on our side and somehow we keep riding a very lucky wave,” he said. “As long as the board fully understands this can only be for one year, I can support it. I will be coming to you in February/March again to recommend that at least the temps be laid off,” he said.

The board hopes that more unexpected cash will flow into the district next year. But for the time being, next year seems a long way away.