The Murrieta Valley Unified School District board may soon vote on whether to reduce the school year from 180 days to 175 for the next school year.
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal gives local school districts the authority to reduce the statutory 180-day calendar by five days, and district officials said the move could save the district an estimated $3.2 million in staffing and overhead costs.
School board members discussed the cost-saving option at a special board meeting Thursday afternoon.
“It is an option that the state gave us — to reduce the school year but still receive the same income,” said board member Kris Thomasian.
Because the bulk of the savings for the district would mean smaller paychecks for employees, it is still something that needs to be negotiated with the district’s employee associations.
“That is part of the negotiations,” Thomasian said.
She could not say when the district could expect negotiations to be completed, only that the agency remains in talks with its unions.
Guy Romero, assistant superintendent of educational services, said a reduced school year does not mean the district plans to lower its curriculum standards.
“We will have the same expectations,” Romero said. “It is obvious there will be an impact on students. It will be very important to stay focused on student learning. We have no plans to minimize any tests or expectations.”
Superintendent Stan Scheer said the board will likely vote on the matter at its next regularly scheduled board meeting on April 22.
“We will make a decision at that time,” Scheer said. “I question whether it should be legal to do this, but quite frankly, we don’t have a choice.”
If the Murrieta Valley Unified School District approves the shortened school year, it will be following suit with the Temecula Valley Unified School District, which has already implemented the five-day reduction on its 2010/2011 calendar.
Romero said the feedback they have gotten from staff at the middle and high school levels should the change take effect has been to reduce some of the late start/early release days. Such a measure would minimize the total impact on student and teacher instruction time, but could affect time set aside for staff development, he said.
“We will have to weigh what will be of more value: the collaboration or the curriculum,” Romero said.
The district is scheduled to meet with its teachers union on April 14 to continue negotiations.
According to Karen Parris, district spokeswoman, the completion and approval of the 2010/2011 calendar depends on the outcome of the negotiations.
“Our management group has already agreed to furlough days, so we have to make it as compatible as possible with that,” Parris said.
“We are still very much in flux right now,” Scheer said.
Measures the district has approved in an effort to mitigate a $14 million expected shortfall next year include a 7.25 percent pay reduction for senior management, a 5 percent pay reduction for principals, assistant principals and other classified and certificated management and an early retirement incentive. More than 177 of the district’s 937 teachers have received preliminary layoff notices, some of which district officials have said they hope can be rescinded.