|On 2-19-09, the California Legislature finally passed a budget. On 2-25-09, our School Board held a regular meeting but the dominating agenda was clearly budget cuts within Fremont Unified School District.
As of today, our school district is still getting state budget information from its Sacramento consultant. The best current guess/estimate is that FUSD would have to deal with a $8 million funding shortfall during the 2008-2009 school year. The state will send fewer and/or smaller checks to FUSD. Next school year, the currently projected funding reduction is $17.5 million.
Our state government can cut funding to education much faster than our school district, or any other school district, can respond. There are both legal and educational issues involved in terms of our school district’s ability and desire to reduce its expenses by $8 million for the rest of this school year. Therefore, $8 million of our school district’s undesignated cash reserve will be used to cover this school year’s funding deficit.
That still leaves a $17.5 million state funding reduction for next school year. FUSD staff has created multiple lists of potential cuts to address this funding problem. Some of these have been reported and shared. Below is the approved and prioritized list from the 2-25-09 School Board meeting. I change the wording and add some additional info so that hopefully it is easier to understand.
1. District Office/Support/Site Administrator Layoffs
2. Eliminate Cal OSHA reserve fund
3. Eliminate Custodial Uniforms
4. 2% Work Year Reduction (Taking from Non-school Work Days for All Employees)
5. 2% All Employees Pay Cut
6. Athletic Stipends (50% cut)
7. 66% Cut to Elementary PE, Science, Music, and Computer Specialist Teachers
8. Kindergarten Class Size Increase 30:1 and 60:2 (Both Teachers and Students Will Overlap)
9. 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Class Size Increase 32:1
10. Jr, High and High Schools Class Size Increase 28:1 (many classes will have more than 35 students)
11. Eliminate School Bus Service to Jr. High and High School Students Living Inside a 3 Miles (as a bird may straightly fly) Radius from School
11. Cutting 4 Counselors (keeping 22 – funding for 6 from one-time, one-year only source)
11. 50% Cuts to All Jr. High and Elementary Library Staff (Library Media Techs)
11. 50% cuts to All High School Library Staff (Certificated Librarians and Library Media Techs)
The primary reason that 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade class size (20:1) is not increased is due to extra state (CSR) funding for these grades to keep class size at 20:1.
The last four items are viewed as having equal priority. Further details for some of the items will be investigated by staff and discussed during the next Board meeting on 3-2-09. Together, these items add up to be about $21.6 million.
Our School Board has officially asked staff to start negotiating items that require employment contract changes with all employee bargaining groups. It is not clear as to how long this negotiating process may take. Until this process is concluded, FUSD is unlikely to be able to reduce its salary expenditure.
The current state budget requires a special election with 5 propositions on May 19th this year. The governor will also review and revise the state budget shortfall again in June. So far, for the past 12 months, every review by the governor has produced a larger state revenue shortfall. Putting it bluntly, the probability of needing to make further cuts beyond $17.5 million for next school year is high.
By Hiu Ng