Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed additional cuts of $4 billion to $5 billion to schools across the state if his plan to extend taxes doesn't make the ballot. The plan has yet to make it out of the state Legislature; a June ballot has already been pushed back and may not make it to the voters before November. That could mean a new round of spending cuts for the current school year.
"We're looking at roughly needing $5.4 million in reductions," Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, told the board at Tuesday night's school board meeting. "We would be looking at changing our operations fairly significantly at that point."
While the district has already pared its budget by more than $3.1 million, cutting programs and laying off more than 65 workers, that could mean changes to the entire upcoming year as well.
"I've heard some school districts say they're going to have to start their school year in October," said board member Jamie Hintzke.
Alex Sutton, president of the CSEA employee's union, told the board he'd spent the weekend in Sacramento lobbying legislators for school funding and against an all-cuts budget proposed as an alternative by Brown, but got little good news.
"The May revise is not going to be pretty for the state of California," Sutton said. He suggested the board adopt a resolution in support of the tax extension and said people should write their local legislators, asking them to support the extension as well.
Opponents of the local tax initiative, Measure E, spoke out again at the meeting. Doug Miller once more pointed out that the parcel tax, if approved, would bring in $8 million over four year, while step-and-column raises would cost the district $15 million.
Miller said the while the parcel tax money would be dedicated to the items listed in the measure, money that would normally go to that could be used for other things, comparing it to taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another. He was joined by Gary Kinsman, a 25-year resident with two grandchildren about to enter school. Kinsman wants the district to move to a system that rewards good teachers while getting rid of teachers who are not performing
"Please wake up and make the system economically real," he told the board. "I'd like to see some fundamental change."
Parcel tax opponents also want the board to review a bond measure, Measure B, claiming that the district did a cash-out that was later ruled illegal when Brown was state attorney general in 2009. Although that was not on the agenda, and board members couldn't discuss the matter due to the Brown Act, the board did ask for a consultant to do an accounting of the cash-out and where the money was spent.
That review will come before the board in May.
Step-and-column raises were once again discussed, with Hintzke asking that pay increases for steps -- additional pay based on years of service -- and for column -- extra pay for getting additional college credit -- be separated out for the board to review at its next meeting.
Board members approved layoff notices for the equivalent of nearly 22 fulltime classified employees. Bill Faraghan, assistant superintendent of human resources, pointed out that the notices are required under the state's education code, although some of those jobs and hours could be restored if the district can find money for them.
The board also heard a review of new steps taken this year under the district's safe schools plan. New outreach measures for students with drug and alcohol problems and their families are in place along with a new trainer program for school counselors and new support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning teens at Amador Valley High School.
The board also heard from three Amador Valley students who won awards at the Tri-Valley Science and Engineering Fair. Aishwarya Yenepalli, Ray Zhou and Ruchita Gupta took home first-place awards and their projects will be entered in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) later this year in Los Angeles.