School board sadly accepts bad scenario | February 20, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - February 20, 2009

School board sadly accepts bad scenario

Red ink will lead to pink slips for teachers, others

by Harry Stoll

With a dark and stormy night approaching on Friday the 13th, the PowerPointing was on the wall.

Blocks of color and rows of dollar amounts illustrated the deep budget cuts coming to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. The school board kept them all in play, with layoff notices to teachers and other certificated employees preeminent.

"We should plan for the worse and hope for the best," said Superintendent Steven Enoch as he briefed the board on the list of 29 cuts.

The "worse" means assuming reduced revenue from the state, expiration of the parcel tax, and no concessions from employees.

"The employee groups have not come forward with any concessions," said Trustee Greg Marvel after the meeting. He thinks they are awaiting the results of the parcel tax measure in early May.

"It would not be good to have reserves and ask the voters to approve a parcel tax," Darren Day, president of the San Ramon Education Association, told the board at the Feb. 13 workshop. The association represents teachers and other certificated employees.

The district has $11 million in "unencumbered reserves" to use for any educational purpose. If and how to use it, and other reserves, was an issue.

Marvel had warned of using too much of the $11 million and was adamant about not using any of a state-mandated Economic Uncertainty reserve of 3 percent. Districts might be allowed to use those reserves.

"Use now and pay later," said Board President Bill Clarkson, noting the state would require the district to replace the reserve.

In a reversal, Marvel supported using half of it, as long as some of the unencumbered reserve was kept for unforeseen expenses that come up before the board each year.

"Would you be comfortable with $1 million?" Board Member Rachel Hurd asked Marvel.

"Yes," he said, and the work of the workshop/special board meeting was essentially done, with $1 million kept in reserve and the board instructing Enoch to bring the resolution for massive layoffs of certificated employees to the board Feb. 28.

For the school year 2009-10, the preliminary notices must be delivered by March 15. Other employees must be given at least 45 days notice.

For the year ending in June, revenue loss could be covered by using $7.3 million of the reserve. For 2009-10, $2.5 million of the reserve would be used, depleting all but $1 million of it, resulting in needed reductions of $16 million in 2009-10. The amount of proposed cuts would increase to $21 million in 2010-11.

The cuts range from belt tightening to strangleholds, with the largest cut being $2.5 million by increasing high school class size and the smallest cut being $40,000 to move the Facilities Department to district property.

All 29 changes, including the following, remain under serious consideration:

* larger classes

* some classes may be eliminated

* no crossing guards

* swimming pools not heated in December and January

* no fifth-grade music

* managers forced to take furloughs

* maintenance and custodial service reduced

* no stipends for coaches, band and art instructors

Uncertainties remain such as the state budget, help coming through the state via the federal stimulus package, and the results of the parcel tax election in May. In the cuts was a section called "Other Possible Considerations," which included further increases in class sizes and school closures.


Like this comment
Posted by dave
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Harry Stoll is a great writer. I'd like to see more of his stuff in the DW.