By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the San Ramon Valley school board ordered the elimination and reduction of many programs, resulting in layoff notices for 137 teachers and others such as librarians and counselors who have teaching credentials.
"These are not people on a list, these are friends and neighbors and people we go to church with," said Board President Bill Clarkson.
"None of this matters one iota to anybody getting a layoff notice," said Superintendent Steven Enoch, before his line-by-line briefing on more than 20 areas to be cut as listed on a "Multi-Year General Fund Summary."
The summary is the latest of several documents prepared by Assistant Superintendent, Business, Gary Black. Although it was still bad news, the summary showed lower deficits for the next three years than did its predecessors.
This was accomplished primarily by use of $2 million that was in accounts for "Categoricals," which are state-mandated programs. The state recently gave school districts flexibility in the use of these funds, meaning the district could use the money for any educational purpose.
The downside of this is that the state could change its mind and say, "Put it back."
The flexibility means 137 layoffs in the district instead of the more than 200 previously anticipated. Assistant Superintendent Roberta Silverstein is in charge of sending the notices who said they are not sent out every year. Her task is complicated but the primary guideline is that it be by inverse seniority.
"On March 10 we will come to the board with the actual number of certificated layoff notices," said district spokesman Terry Koehne.
Silverstein said some districts mail their notices, but the San Ramon Valley district will deliver them personally. The deadline for delivering the notifications is March 13, which would have placed a lot of trust in the postal system if they were mailed.
Depending on the parcel tax being voted on May and the state vote on budget cuts, some of these positions may be reinstated.
Koehne estimated that 200 people attended the March 3 meeting in the common room at the San Ramon Valley High School.
Many who spoke urged the board to keep music programs.
"We are killing fifth-grade music," said high school music teacher and band leader Cheryl Yee Glass.
Others who addressed the school board said it's a proven fact that students involved in music do better in school all around, and that the arts is a state-mandated program and funding must stay.
Claudia Schwarz said she helps in the classrooms where her children are taught and asked that the K-3 student-to-teacher ration be set at 22-to-1 rather than the proposed 24-to-1.
Two funding items are critical under the proposed cuts. The unencumbered reserve of $11 million would be depleted over a five-year period starting in 2008-09. Nobody likes that, but, said Enoch, "Desperate times call for desperate measures."
Board members Clarkson, Paul Gardner, Rachel Hurd, Greg Marvel and Ken Mintz, and Enoch all said passing of the long-term parcel tax in May is essential. Each year for the next three years the parcel tax would yield an amount close to the estimated deficit.