The Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) held a budget study on the 2010-11 Budget at the April 20, 2010 Board Meeting. An overview of the first draft of the unrestricted portion of the district’s General Fund budget was presented at the TUSD Board Meeting.
If the TUSD maintained status quo budgeting, the school district would insolvent with a deficit of nearly $17 million by the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year.
While looking at various budget scenarios over the next two years, the unknown economic environment presents a some what moving target.
TUSD has projected reserves of about 14 percent but has been using, and planning to use, around $4 million a year.
Lists of potential budget cuts have been created by different groups and the TUSD Board would later unanimously approve just over $2.3 million in cuts at their April 20th Board Meeting.
While discussing the various budget scenarios and keeping in mind the proposed cuts, the main focus of the discussion appeared to be making up around 2 to 2.5 percent in cuts via employee salary reductions.
“I really hate asking people to take pay cuts. It’s hard, it’s a bad time to do it but I’m not going to support raising class sizes,” said TUSD Trustee Tami Muniz. “It hurts our students, it hurts our teachers, it eliminates jobs and it eliminates jobs of people that are new to the district.”
Trustee Muniz went on to say “As much as I hate asking the employees to take some type of a reduction in pay, I really don’t feel that we have any other alternative in meeting this deficit we have.”
“My goal is to keep our cuts the farthest away from our students as we can,” said TUSD Trustee Josh Bernard. “That means I’m not interested in increasing class size. I’m not interested in shortening the school year; we’re already having a hard time getting our students taught to the levels that we have to every year.”
TUSD Trustee Eileen Hamilton, a retired teacher, spoke with a more understanding view to the employees’ potential cuts but in support of the bargaining units taking a cut to save jobs.
“I’ve had this hit me very close to home and my daughter may not work for six month, so I understand what it’s like to not have a paycheck,” said Trustee Hamilton.
“I think it’s a shame, I don’t care if you’re a classified or certificated person, that if you’re not going to be willing to take a 2 or 2.5 percent cut and give someone else a 100 percent cut… I’m not going to be going for that, that does bother me some,” said TUSD Trustee Bob Weaver.
Julie Shipman, President of the Turlock Teachers Association spoke to the references that their bargaining group was willing to lose their newer employees by saying “We’re not interested in raising class sizes unless we can do without losing employees.”
Shipman also suggested accepting salary cuts but while accepting furlough days, cutting the school year up to 5 days shorter.
“It would be a short-term answer to a short-term problem. When you ask employees to take salary cuts then that’s ongoing, that lasts their entire careers and their retirements,” said Shipman.
TUSD President Frank Lima pointed out that past history of the District shows that when cost of living goes up, it’s almost automatic that their employees’ salaries go up.
TUSD Trustee Loren Holt, who has sat on the budget advisory committee, echoed an almost unanimous message of being against increasing class size, losing newer employees, while looking toward reducing employee salaries.
Rob Aikman, a teacher at Cunningham Elementary School, spoke to the philosophy of everybody sharing in the cuts from administration to teachers to classified staff.
“I think the public needs to see some sort of impact on them, Furlough days directly impact the public. If for some reason the public is impacted maybe we’ll see more of them in the audience. I’m not saying I’d want students and families to be affected by the budget crisis but I’d like to see, especially since we’ve mentioned that everybody needs to share in the cuts, I see the public, students, and their families… probably a good idea that they should be involved in some sort of cuts as well.”
TUSD President Frank Lima responded by saying “I don’t want to send a message to the public at the expense of our students and they’re the ones that are the most affected by a reduction of school days.”
Lima also noted that there were very few (approximately 20) people in the audience and that the meeting was a big one, important Trustee comments were made. Lima hoped there would be more people in attendance as the Board gave their suggestions on potential future budget ideas.
Negotiations are ongoing and no action was taken during the information budget study session although on the following agenda item, the TUSD Board unanimously voted 6-0 (John Sims was absent) to approve the following budget reductions:
2010-11 BUDGET AMOUNT OF SAVINGS
Retain MAA funds over $400,000 allocation to sites 1,900,000
Reduce school site and District Office department allocations by 10% 1 30,000
Reduce Restricted Maintenance contribution by 10% 204,942
Increase portion of Asst. Principal salaries paid by categorical funds 100,000
Eliminate GED testing 25,000
Total Reductions 2,359,942