When the Temecula Valley Unified School Board met Tuesday evening, it was with obvious reluctance that the measure to provide pink slips to 86 teachers, and a total of 120 employees was passed.
Superintendent Tim Ritter met Wednesday morning with concerned parents to explain what changes are coming, and the implications of the budget shortfall for the 2012/2013 school year.
“This year, we are asking more of our teachers and staff than ever before. We have been told to build a budget around a $10.1 million reduction in projections,” Ritter said of Governor Jerry Brown’s ‘Trigger Cuts’ aimed at education in November.
“If certain measures don’t pass in Sacramento, the $10.1 million dollars will not reach the district,” he said.
Combined with the current budget overages of $13 million for next year, the TVUSD is now faced with cutting $23 million from the 2012-2013 school budget.
After a detailed description of the budgetary shortfall and a tightening of revenues based upon ADA (Average Daily Attendance), Ritter showed the action plan from which they hope to negotiate, that includes such proposals as early retirement incentives, increased work reduction days, a freeze in the “step and column” pay raises, a reduction in stipend pay, and removal of K-5 paid planning days.
“The closer we get to meeting in the middle, the less likely layoffs will be,” Ritter said.
Superintendent Tim Ritter’s words:
“The guessing game only hurts everyone. People’s lives are affected by these measures. The threat of layoffs can have lasting, damaging effects on the psyche.”
–Of Governor Brown’s ‘Trigger’ verbiage for measures on the November ballot
“The teachers are incredibly professional, keeping the personal part out of the classrooms.”
–On encouraging parents to support staff morale during this difficult time
“It is easier to give money back, than to bring back the people. I would always choose people first. I’m choosing people right now, in trying to save jobs.”
–On which is more likely — cuts or layoffs
In a meeting attended by parents and school representatives speaking for children ranging from K-12, Ritter conducted a question/answer session, inviting parents to ask the hard questions.
Parent and community suggestions included starting school after Labor Day to save on energy costs.
Ritter said the district currently has an action plan in place for energy reduction that could save up to $150,000 in expenses.
Other questions asked for an explanation of the ADA allowance, to whether bonds in November could offset salary or equipment needs.
“Whatever passed in November would not be funded until 2014,” Ritter said, returning to the point that they must plan for the worst.
A longtime proponent of keeping elementary class sizes small, Ritter stood firm on his decision to keep class size reduction in place, however, small class sizes could be a thing of the past.
With reduced class sizes and over-staffing issues, the district will have to put teachers on legal notice by March 15, before pink slips go out in May, Ritter said.
“For the first time in five years, we have less students starting kindergarten than graduating from high school,” Ritter said.
He offered this advice to concerned parents: “Talk to your legislators. California needs to change how we fund our schools.”
Ashley Ludwig is a freelance writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.