Monday, January 25, 2010

Budget Update 1-22-10

On January 19th our Board of Trustees held their first study session regarding the budget for 2010-11. The purpose of the session was to get direction from the Board on issues and options they would like to see considered on their future agendas.

I informed you in my last update that the release of the Governor’s budget has caused us to further increase our targeted reduction for next year and the year after. Our target is a reduction of $5 million for next year and another 1 million for the year after. These must be on-going reductions as opposed to a one-time savings. The only good news is that there won’t be further cuts this year. However, the only thing we can be sure of is change between now and this summer. I won’t go into detail about the Governor’s budget but I encourage you to read more about what he is proposing at While the Governor states he is saving education, the added impact on SUSD is a further decrease in revenue of 1.5 million next year.

Certificated Layoffs

Like last year, we will be forced to go through a layoff process using our (hopefully) worst case scenario. On February 2nd the Board will receive a recommended layoff list of approximately 48 certificated positions. You may recall that number was 64 last year. The premise of this list will be to prepare for the reduction of nearly every position that is not a classroom teacher or critical support position. As you know, we have already eliminated most of our positions the last two years. The reduction will include the following for a potential savings of 1.5 million:

Multiple subject 36 FTE

Music 2 FTE

Art 2 FTE

Librarian 1 FTE

Counselor 2 FTE

Assistant Principal 1 FTE

Instruct Facilitators 4 FTE

Classified and management position reductions will follow in March and April.

Class Size Reduction

Part of our layoff plan includes the further increase in class sizes at the K-3 level. This year we targeted to increase from 20-25 per class. This resulted in our current average in K-3 to rise to 22.2 per class. We are projecting a potential increase next year up to 32 per class and anticipate an average of approximately 28 per class. We estimate this will reduce expenditures by 1.1 million. Principals will have site specific projection data to share at Monday’s staff meeting. See the link to the right.

Layoff Resolution Timeline

The Board will hold a public and staff comment session at their meeting on February 2nd. No action will be taken at this meeting. However, action will be scheduled for February 9th to allow time for layoff notices to be prepared and delivered prior to the March 15th deadline. The February 2nd meeting will be held at Sherwood Elementary School and begin at 7 p.m..

Traditional Calendar

One of the cost saving measures the Board will be considering is the movement of ALL schools to the traditional calendar for the 2010-11 school year. A savings of over $100,000 per year is projected by having all schools on the same calendar. This would include Crossroads Elementary. While Crossroads is on a multiple track schedule, there are sufficient classrooms to avoid rotation this year and the same is projected for next year. Again, the Board will encourage public comment on this proposal at the February 2nd meeting at Sherwood Elementary.

Other Issues to be Discussed

The following are other reduction options the Board has asked to discuss in future meetings or in negotiations:

1. Continuation of furlough days- Our agreement with all employee groups for furlough days was for one year. An extension of this agreement would need to be negotiated.

2. Consider additional furlough days or across the board salary reductions. Again, this would need to be negotiated. A 1% salary reduction for all employees would save approximately $323,000.

3. Reduce the Instructional Year by five days- The State will probably extend the allowance to shorten the school year by five days. This would require negotiations. A potential savings of $750,000 could be realized.

4. Sweep more Categorical program funds with the continued flexibility. Title 1 and SSIP (Site Council $) could be redirected to unrestricted. However, this would eliminate site discretionary funding.

5. Consider a modification or downsizing of our print shop.

6. Consider offering to share services with surrounding school districts. Examples might be: business services, construction management, food services, or maintenance and operations. This would be contingent on the openness of other school districts.

7. We will not be considering the closing of schools for 2010-11. However, consolidation of programs and elimination of portable classrooms where possible will be discussed.

Like the last two years, we will collect and consider all suggestions. The input from the years past resulted in numerous suggestions for reduction.

Please send your questions and/or suggestions. I am prepared to come to any site at your request to discuss these or any other issues relative to our budget planning.


marshawag said...

What are the implications of increasing class size from the state standpoint of financial penalties for doing so? Are those penalties still in effect during this financial crisis?

sarah said...

While Crossroads may have enough classrooms to house all 800 students, there are logistical and safety issues regarding transportation, lunch, and recess for that many students on an elementary school site. Will the district consider realigning boundaries, since many other schools have excess capacity? Also, many families prefer the single track schedule--is the cost savings greater for traditional versus the single track? If all school are on traditional, will the district office be closed for some of the summer?

Claudia Courtney said...

Could we drop daily bus services and hire crossing guards for key intersections? This would still provide walking students with a measure of safety enroute to school and home. Just a thought.

Claudia Courtney said...

Could we drop daily bus services and hire crossing guards at key intersections? This would still ensure safe travel for walking students enroute to school and home. Just a thought.

Angelique A. said...

I have seen first hand the importance of small class sizes and understand how trying this time must be for everyone involved in maintaining the budget for the school district. What concerns me is that we seem to be going into the classroom FIRST, eliminating well-needed teacher positions, and inevitably increasing class sizes. Why can't the school district work on restructuring from the administrative level first and seek the elimination of more teaching positions as a last resort? Students are already working with limited Arts & Music resources, which will more than likely go the way of the dinosaur next school year. Teachers are tapping into their own personal finances for necessary educational supplies. More unemployment will not benefit the school district, nor the neighborhoods and surrounding cities. And the thought of closing schools down is an even more frightening consideration. The schools in our neighborhoods are as important as any church or social center. They tie the community together and provide a sense of unity in an otherwise scattered existence. Allow each school to come up with their own game plan to make things work. It's one thing to be dictating where funds should go. It's another thing actually being INSIDE the classroom and seeing the progress (and setbacks) from all of these changes.

I also highly recommend some kind of street sign at the crosswalk on Napier Drive by Woodrow School. Since we do not have the means of more crossing guards, a sign which simply states, "Stop for Pedestrians", will hopefully make drivers aware of the basic rules of the road. There have been so many instances where I've witnessed cars blazing through the crosswalk, despite a pedestrian's presence. And some of these school children are crossing the street without any parent or adult, which makes this sign a priority.

Thank you for your time.