346 Capo Teacher Jobs on the Chopping Block

Not knowing how much money the school district will receive next year, the school board will consider Tuesday sending pink slips to hundreds of teachers.

The music program may be crippled, and 346 teachers, nurses, psychologists sand counselors are poised to lose their jobs, as the braces to endure another round of multimillion-dollar budget cuts.

The board of trustees will meet Tuesday to authorize the district to issue at least 346 pink slips. Among those on the chopping block are 103 kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers, 178 secondary teachers, 53 special education teachers, 10 counselors and two nurses. All of the teachers to be laid off were hired on  temporary contracts.

"Their contract is such that they can be released under these conditions," Superintedent Joseph Farley told Patch. "Our hope is that we can reinstate them as the financial situation is more clear."

Among teachers at the middle-school and high-school level are 47 English teachers, 39 math, 27 music instructors, 24 social science teachers and seven world-language teachers.

By law, each year, teachers must receive their layoff notices by March 15. In the past, the district has reinstated many of the teachers who received pink slips. The uncertainty about how many teachers will actually be let go stems from the fact that school districts won’t know how much money they will receive until the state budget is passed.

While California law requires state legislators to pass a state budget by July 1, that deadline is often not met. This year’s budget wasn’t passed until Oct. 8, 2010—100 days late.

This leaves school districts in a very precarious position, compounded by a state government that is facing at least a $20-billion shortfall this year, according to a school district staff report. To plug the hole, Gov. Jerry Brown has requested that a  be put before the voters in a June special election that would extend temporary sales, motor vehicle and income taxes.

But there’s no guarantee such a measure would win voter approval or even  make it to the ballot, so at this point, the Orange County Department of Education has instructed school districts across the county to assume the worst. In dollar terms, that would mean for the district than it received this year.

On top of that, district enrollment is declining, some families may soon be choosing  to go to and the state is passing along a bill it once paid for . All told, the district may be facing as much as $24.8 million in budget cuts.

“To afford maximum flexibility during the budget development process for 2011-2012, the district has no other option but to prepare for the worst-case scenario,” Farley wrote in a report to the board.

Personnel salaries eat up 85 percent of the district’s total budget, Farley wrote. “It is anticipated that the district would not be able to achieve cost savings equaling $17.5 million without reductions in staff, including certificated employees.”

Capo teachers went on strike last year when the board reduced their pay by 10.1 percent. The only concession gained after the three-day strike was a deal to restore teacher salaries should extra money become available.

The district did just that earlier this month, by a third, to 6.49 percent. October’s state budget included $13.5 million more than the district had budgeted.

On the closed session agenda for Tuesday, board members are slated for negotiations with each of the four barganing associations.

In another item scheduled for Tuesday, the school board will discuss the costs to repair recent rain damage. The district’s insurance will not cover the $400,000 it cost to repair San Juan Elementary and the Capistrano-Laguna Beach ROP Program. So the district will apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for . President Obama declared Orange County a disaster area  after December rains deluged the area.

“The exact financial implications due to the flooding and water damage have not been fully determined at this point,” wrote Ron Lebs, deputy superintendent of business and support services, in a staff report.

Until the district is reimbursed, school officials have tapped into the general fund to pay for repairs, Lebs wrote.

April Josephson February 20, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Capo parent's analysis seems to be a thorough, strict interpretation of the agreement. The first clause is certainly being interpreted differently by Mr. Walton and the CUSD administration. Were the pay cuts that were agreed to only for the two fiscal years? If so, I can see an argument for the administration's take on this—not that I agree with it. The second question relating to "actual funded" seems more straight-forward—unless there is a definition in relation to state education budget funding that considers deferred funds as having been actually funded already. There again, an argument can be made for the action. However, I think this is something that should have been brought before the board prior to making any decision, as it has such a significant impact, and is clearly subject to interpretation. Mr. Walton, is there a legal opinion from counsel that was obtained prior to invoking the restoration language? If so, has that been made public? It will be very interesting to see how this progresses.
Capo Parent February 20, 2011 at 09:58 PM
April My interpretation of the agreement is based on the actual wording of the agreement. I wasn't involved in the negotiations or drafting of the agreement. However, under the rules of contract interpretation words are giving their plain and ordinary meaning. The agreement (not me) states (and I paraphrase) that restoration can occur after the adoption of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 state budgets. This makes sense, since the Legislature can take in the following year what it gave in the proceeding year. For example, ADA funding promised for this year is deferred until June or July. If the 2011-12 state budget adopted defers the ADA money to next year, then CUSD will have no ADA money to pay for the restored tax cuts. This is also why the agreement calls for actual funding vs. the promise of funding so that CUSD is not stuck paying for restoring pay cuts without having received the actual funds to do so. The more pressing question is why is CUSD playing games with this issue? Why is CUSD adding words to the agreement that are not in the agreement? Why won't CUSD provide proof that it has actually received the fundings identified in the agreement that would trigger the restoration language. Also, why did CUSD report that the board voted on the restoration, but now claims it did not?
April Josephson February 20, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Capo Parent, you raise a number of excellent questions. I was actually very surprised at how quickly the teachers' pay cuts were restored. When I initially read about the restoration, I assumed that the funds had been received, in order for the funds to have been available to make payment to the teachers.
Marcus Walton February 21, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Dear Capo Parent and Ms. Josephson, I am truly sorry that you believe there are games being played with this issue. I am not going to ask you to trust me because I know that the District has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of this community. I will say that the staff, which has completely turned over in the last four years, has no wish to play games. As soon as we are able, there will be a full public accounting to prove that a) the District has received the funds that triggered the restoration language and b) the agreement did mandate the restoration of the instructional days and reduction in the salary cuts. To my knowledge, the only legal advice given was by phone between legal counsel and the superintendent, which he makes reference to in a public board meeting. Again, it is our hope to make this District more transparent so that there is no confusion about the reasons actions are taken. If you have questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact me or post on this message board. I will do what I can to answer your questions. Best regards, Marcus Walton Chief Communications Officer Capistrano Unified School District
Capo Parent February 21, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Mr. Walton Thank you for reply, however, your comments regarding providing a full public accounting as soon as CUSD is able to are very troubling and make no sense. Either CUSD has received the money or it has not. If it has received the money CUSD should immediately make available to the public the documents showing its receipt of the money. Why is a public accounting needed when all CUSD needs to do is simply produce documents showing receipt of monies? All CUSD needs to do so is publish the remittances for the money it has received. Show the public, without delay and procrastination, the remittance(s) for the additional funding CUSD has received that triggered the restoration language. If CUSD can't or won't do so then the inescapable conclusion is that CUSD doesn't have the money.


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