Mountain View Voice

News - March 5, 2010

MV Whisman kicks off 10 budget forums

No pink slips planned for district's teachers

by Kelsey Mesher

Despite tough fiscal decisions ahead, the Mountain View Whisman School District will not be handing out pink slips come March 15, the state deadline for notifying employees of layoffs.

In the first of a series of budget forums Tuesday afternoon, district chief financial officer Craig Goldman told the site council at Huff Elementary that the district plans to cut 11 staff positions in elementary schools, but that he is "highly confident" probationary and tenured teachers will keep their jobs this year.

The classroom reductions are one part of working out next year's budget amidst significant cuts from Sacramento. Due to a combination of categorical and unrestricted operational funding cuts, Goldman said, the district will be balancing its 2010-11 budget with $1,309 less per student than when fully funded.

When calculated with the district's projected attendance figures for next year — a record high 4,712 — that amounts to $6.17 million.

"Throughout the state the first place districts are addressing this is through class size reduction," Goldman said.

The district's current proposal is to allow kindergarten through third grade classrooms an average student-to-teacher ratio of 25 to one, with no more than 27 students in any one classroom. The proposal has gone through union negotiations, but has yet to be voted on by the board of trustees.

Goldman said this class size ratio would accommodate growing enrollment for next year, and also allow the district to eliminate 11 staff positions and 20 classrooms in its elementary schools. The shift would save about $1 million, he said.

The eliminated staff positions would be accounted for by retirees, those leaving the district on their own, and by not renewing some temporary contracts.

He added that middle school enrollment projections are approximately the same for next year, and that the number of classrooms at Crittenden and Graham will likely not be affected.

Goldman said the district's categorical funding — flexible money dedicated to special programs like GATE, art and music, textbooks, professional development and English language learners — is most vulnerable to state cuts.

"It's the money you have authority over at a site council" that is being cut, Goldman explained. "We're going to start dipping into the money for English language learners and low-income students."

"Facts will change over the course of the month," he added, referring to the uncertainty and ever-changing cuts from the state. "This presentation will change."

The district will hold eight more budget forums throughout the month. In addition to providing information, school officials hope to receive input from the community regarding the 2010-11 budget. All forums are open to the public. The Castro and district office sessions will also be presented in Spanish.

INFORMATION:

The upcoming budget forums are:

March 9, 4:30-6 p.m. at Bubb

March 11, 6:30-8 p.m. at Castro

March 15, 6:30-8 p.m. at the District Office

March 16, 6:30-8 p.m. at Monta Loma

March 23, 4-5:30 p.m. at Landels

March 23, 6:30-8 p.m. at Crittenden

March 30, 4:15-5:45 p.m. at Stevenson

March 30, 6:30-8 p.m. at Theuerkauf

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