Capo's Budget: You Can't Get There From Here Without New Union Pacts

The district has identified $11 million in cuts it could make. That's $40 million off from what trustees will ultimately have to find.

More details emerged about the ’s dire financial situation at Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The district has identified about $11 million in cuts it can make fairly easily. But Capo Unified is looking a $33.5 million deficit at a minimum, and that’s . If it fails, the deficit jumps to $51 million, said Robyn Phillips, interim deputy superintendent of business and support services.

The difference will have to be made up in employee concessions from the district’s three unions.

“This is not a case of cutting this or that. This is a case of cutting this and that,” Phillips said.

She outlined how $11 million in savings could be found without reopening negotiations with the three unions:

  • $1.5 million from management (mostly at the district headquarters, but also at school sites)
  • $3.5 million from classified (non-teaching) employees
  • $3.5 million from teachers and other employees with a teaching credential
  • $1.1 million in redirecting funding from restricted categories to other areas, now that school districts have greater flexibility to make such moves
  • $1.4 million in other savings, including asking student government bodies and booster groups to step up donations

But, Phillips acknowledged, “$11 million is only a small piece of a $33 million reduction and a very small piece of a $51 million reduction.”

Superintendent Joseph Farley said he began the discussion Tuesday with principals about how supporting groups, such as student governments and booster clubs, could step up in the district’s time of need.  He’s decided he will have to speak to the students directly about the problem.

One example of where students and parents could help is in transportation to extracurricular activities, Farley said. Currently, the district spends about $650,000 on that item alone.

But to get to the $51 million figure – the number the district must cut because its budget must be approved far ahead of the November election – the trustees will have to .

The trustees unanimously voted to reopen talks with the Capistrano Unified Education Association – the teachers’ union – California School Employees Association and the Teamsters. Specifically, the district is considering furlough days, larger class sizes and lower salaries.

Why is the district in such a bind? Phillips pointed to many causes, including:

  • Revenues from the state are coming in less than budgeted, to the tune of $1.8 million
  • The $ as a way to solve its own budget problems
  • Employee benefits are $2.9 million more than anticipated, $2.1 million of that in medical benefits
  • An increase in classified salaries
  • Legal expenses
  • Repairs
  • The consultant who drew up the was more expensive than budgeted

The district will spend $19.6 million more this school year than it will receive in revenues, Phillips said. The reserves will ultimately take care of it, but the district will not be able to go to that well again, she said.

By law, school districts are required to have 2 percent in reserves. After closing out the books on the 2011-12 year, the district will be down to about $9 million, $1.3 million away from the magic 2 percent figure, Phillips said.

“That’s less than one week’s payroll for the district,” she added. “It’s very, very tight.”

Trustees made few comments. The board voted 5-2, with Trustees Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo against, to approve an interim budget report that indicates the district may not be able to meet its fiscal responsiblities in the next two years. 

Capo mom March 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Everything in CUSD from curriculum to pay and benefits, is subject CUEA's influence. Private schools don't have to struggle with that burden. They can be more responsive to the communities they serve without having to get an organization (whose primary interest in not education) to agree to reopen a contract. Just doing the budget math in CUSD, $55 million in cuts distributed over all current employees looks like an average of almost $16,000 per employee. That is pretty sobering. Of course, there will be an effort to shift the burden on to the students by increasing class sizes and further reducing the number of school days. It is doubtful that we be at this juncture today, had CUEA accepted a pay cut in 2010 rather than striking. CUEA's goal is to get the highest level of pay and benefits for its members, not to create better educational outcomes for our kids. With a union owned board majority, the focus of the "negotiations" will be on maintaining compensation, whatever the cost to students. We have seen it before, we'll see sit again.
Pam Sunderman March 15, 2012 at 04:54 PM
"It is doubtful that we be at this juncture today, had CUEA accepted a pay cut in 2010 rather than striking." This statement is very puzzling since the teachers did accept a pay cut in 2010 and had even accepted it before the strike.
Capo mom March 15, 2012 at 05:37 PM
When is a pay cut not a pay cut? When you work for CUSD. http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-preventing-bankruptcy-at-capo-unified
cusd mom March 15, 2012 at 06:33 PM
http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-preventing-bankruptcy-at-capo-unified This needs to go out to as many parents as possible.
melissa kaffen August 29, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Anyone remember the hateful pay cut imposed by a the non- Union controlled School Board several years back, until the district's revenues reached specific growth benchmarks???...The cuts were summarily tossed aside when the Teachers' Union regained control of the Board? This IS what happens... when foxes guard hens? Now we get big Union crocodile tears & a strike threat if the the Gov's temporary tax increase doesn't pass. Yet the Teachers' Union has necessary funds to defeat Prop 32? A much needed measure that might just tip the balance of power in CA back in favor of the "funding source".


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