Monday, March 1, 2010

Budget Update 3-1-10

Sylvan Staff,

As you all know by now, the Board of Trustees has decided to return all schools to a traditional calendar in 2011. The Board received over 150 comments from staff and community members. A link to these comments, minus names, can be found on our blog site.

Our blog site also has a link to a 2-23-10 update on the reduction options that are being considered. This document was reviewed at last Tuesday’s Board meeting. As you will see, we are getting closer to our $5,000,000 reduction target. However, the cuts are very deep and some depend on negotiated settlements.

The next Board meeting and opportunity for public input will be March 16th, starting at 7:00 p.m., to be held at Savage Middle School.

This Thursday, March 4th, Sylvan Staff and parents will participate in an important event to inform our community of the fiscal crisis and its impact on our public schools across the State and here in the Sylvan Union School District . March 4th is a statewide day of action supported by many groups, including CTA, CSEA, college students, ACSA(the Association of California School Administrators), business leaders, non-education labor organizations, the County Office of Education, the California School Boards Association, parent groups, and several foundations. There will be huge rallies up and down the state to draw public awareness to the education cuts. I encourage you to join your colleagues to “Start the Day for Students” at each of your sites. Both SEA and CSEA are organizing for this event and you have heard and/or will hear from your respective leaders and representatives on how you can participate. This is a great opportunity to “Stand Up for Our Public Schools” and professionally show our community that we care about the future of education and our students.

I am including some questions I have received lately, along with a response from me:

1. Is it possible to consider charging for bus services to help offset the transportation costs? Yes, we are allowed to charge for transportation services. However, students who qualify for free or reduced lunches may not be charged. That constitutes over 50% of our students. This, along with the added administrative expense of collecting fee and monitoring ridership, limits the potential savings of this strategy.

2. How can we keep from laying off so many people? We are identifying everything we can to cut or capture in an effort to avoid personnel reductions. You can see that list in our reduction option link. However, we are a people business with 82% of our revenue going to salaries and benefits. Ultimately we can only reduce personnel cost by having less people or paying people less.

Our major problem is the dramatic drop in our revenue. Next year our revenue per ADA will be less than what we were receiving in 2005-06. This is also a 13% reduction from what we received 2007-08.

Fiscal Year

Actual ADA

Per ADA Dollars



$ 4,929



















The reduced revenue is due to all the cuts from the State, driven by the poor economy. If we ALL returned to the salary level we ALL were getting in 2005-06, we would experience a reduction of about 9.6%. If we ALL took a 9.6% salary reduction we would reduce our expenditures by just under $ 4 million dollars. This would allow us to not cut ANY positions for next year and keep our class sizes at our current level. In fact, we would even have additional funds to reinstate some of our lost programs and positions.

3. Shouldn’t we consider establishing charter schools or magnet schools to retain some of our students who are leaving us? Yes. The Board of Trustees will consider establishing a commission to explore charter and magnet options at their March 16th meeting. While it may take some time, we need to give thought to how we can enhance our learning opportunities, as well as attracting and retaining students in the future.

4. How much could we save by shortening the school year and how much could we really shorten it? The current law allows us to shorten the school year by up to 5 days with no loss in revenue. Five days for certificated is equal to $776,527. Would it make a significant difference? Five less days would obviously make an impact. However, the number of instructional days prior to State testing would not change. So, theoretically our test scores should not be impacted in the first year. Classified and administrators reduced by 6.5 days this year and it saved about $375,000. So, if everyone reduced by 5 days it would be well over a million in savings.

5. Special Education seems to be a “Sacred Cow.” Couldn’t we save jobs by taking back County run programs? So far SUSD has taken back three classes: two PH (severe physically handicapped) classes and one preformal (preschool). It was suggested at our last meeting that taking back classes from the County would save jobs by having our current staff take these positions. Two deterrents from this rationale are that special credentials are required and take backs include, by law, the County teachers in who are currently in those positions.

6. Couldn't we run it as an afterschool program, charge parents a nominal fee and use foundation money for grants for students who could not pay ( based on free and reduced lunch application.) Others would have to pay. Yes. This could work for enrichment classes or a sports program. However, no child can be required to pay. We would also need teachers for these programs

John A. Halverson

Superintendent / CBO

Sylvan Union School District

(209) 574-5000 Ext 201

1 comment:

sarah said...

Thank you for highlighting the challenge of increasing salaries with declining revenues in your second response. Since I spoke on this subject at the last board meeting, I have been surprised by the support from teachers to make salary concessions to avoid layoffs and increased class sizes. An interesting report on the subject is at I hope all employee groups, especially union leadership, will carefully consider making smart, sustainable tradeoffs that balance compensation, layoffs, and class sizes.