Friday, February 5, 2010

Budget Update 2-5-10

Sylvan Staff and Community,

Thank you for the great turnout at the Board meeting this past Tuesday. The Board will meet again on Tuesday (9th) at 7:00 p.m.. This time the meeting will be at Sanders Elementary School. The only agenda item will be the proposed layoff resolution for certificated staff.

If you were not at the meeting you might not be aware that our first list of reduction options is now posted on the blog site. Click on the link to the right.

The following are some question I collected during the week and at the Board meeting:

1. Is there any way to keep class sizes at 22-25 next year, like this year? Yes, identify a million dollar alternative to meet our $5,000,000 reduction target that isn’t already needed to balance the budget.

2. What will the district NOT touch? What is the district’s “sacred cow?” I am unaware of any “sacred cows” in the District. We all have our own valued priorities. The Board will prioritize reduction options as a part of the process. However, until we find enough reduction options to meet our $5,000,000 target, prioritizing is useless. We need to do everything at this point. Your suggestions are essential.

3. Since there is a possibility of combination classes next year, will it be possible to transport kids to prevent this? Yes, we did that every year until this year. It does cost a lot.

4. Is closing a school a possibility for next year? Is the “time window” closed? Is there a legal deadline? There is no legal deadline for closing a school. For the benefit of our community and the related communication and grieving process, it should start in the fall. However, it is still an option for next year if the Board wants to consider it.

5. Is there an end in sight for cuts? Will 2011-2012 or 2012-2013 look any better? Right now there is no identifiable end in sight. The crisis reaches a cliff in 2011-12. At that point we are projected to be in the red with a qualified budget. A turn around will mainly depend on the economy and a State recovery plan. Most are predicting a very slow turn around in the economy.

6. Are we allowing intra- and inter- district transfers? Yes, we are planning now to continue current intras and accepting inters as soon as possible.

7. Is it true that the district office facilities were given to us in a trust that says it MUST always be used as a district office? No, that is an urban legend. We researched this issue thoroughly a few years back and found nothing to support it.

8. Is it possible that some charter school students will come back to the district if we went to a traditional schedule? It is certainly possible. In addition, we may see the return of some interdistrict Sylvan students. We currently have over 400 students leaving us on interdistrict agreement. However, this is speculative and not based on known facts.

9. Could we drop daily bus services and hire crossing guards at key intersections? This would still ensure safe travel for walking students in route to school and home? Yes, that will take some research to determine. Transportation is NOT mandatory. It currently costs $650,000 per year to run transportation and revenue is $200,000. The saving to the general fund would be $450,000. However, it could be speculated that attendance would drop for transporting between Riverbank and Modesto, as well as other outlying areas.

10. Why are you constructing at the District Office and Sylvan when there is no money? All projects for schools and support facilities are paid for out of Measure A bond money or developer fees. Neither of these sources can be used for general fund expenses by law. We are proceeding now because the cost of construction is at its lowest point.

11. Could we save money by eliminating the 2nd round of parent teacher conferences? Yes, but only for 4-6 grade teachers substitute costs. Currently, by contract, we allow one substitute day per teacher.

12. Could we ask students to bring their own supplies, as many want to do anyway? Yes, they could be encouraged but not required.

Please keep your questions coming. If I missed one of your questions this time, send me a quick reminder. I wish you all a great three day weekend.



James Mason said...

According to Randy Klinkefus' report, there are relatively few students applying to come to Sylvan from out of district. It was hypothesized that this may be because their home districts are refusing to allow them to leave.

As you know, sending districts have the ability to deny inter-district transfers, but not to deny transfers to charter schools. If Sylvan Elementary School were to be converted to a district-opeated charter, then would this give these students to benefit from attending our district while allowing the district to collect additional ADA?

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