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$30-Million Hole 'Best-Case Scenario' for Capistrano School District

Red ink could grow to $50 million, school district officials say.

A $30-million shortfall is the “best-case scenario” for the Capo Unified School District next year, according to a report presented Monday night.

The worst case is $50 million in red ink for 2012-13, said interim Deputy Superintendent Robyn Phillips, speaking before the CUSD school board.

“In order to balance our budget for next year, the district will need to reduce expenditures by 10 to 15 cents of every dollar we spend,” Phillips said. “We can’t pretend that we can avoid any impact, [but] we can look at ways to do it as sensitively as we can.”

CUSD's curent overall budget is about $340 million, according to Phillips.

Phillips said if voters don't approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed temporary tax increases in November, the shortfall will grow to $48 million.

And, Phillips added, the number could reach $50 million if a proposed cut to transportation funding is replaced by a “revenue limit reduction.”

“In school budgeting, things can change, and we know that things will change,” Phillips said. 

Although cuts in state funding are the main reason for the expected shortfall, Phillips said, the end of federal stimulus money and declining enrollment are also factors.

The average daily attendance at CUSD has dropped by 1,590 since 2010-11, which translates to a loss of $8.3 million.

The district has also come to the end of $45 million in federal stimulus money, including $12 million spent this year. 

(To see the Phillips' full PowerPoint presentation, click here and scroll to page 12.)

In the wake of continuing budget cuts, the district has already eliminated jobs, increased class sizes, reduced bus routes and instituted furlough days.

Next year's shortfall will mean more of the same, Phillips said.

To balance the budget, district staff has proposed postponing plans for a transitional kindergarten program, offering retirement incentives, and putting a freeze on new hires and spending for all nonessential jobs and purchases.

Optional cuts on the table include increasing class sizes for grades K-12, additional furlough days and additional pay cuts.

“This is a no-win situation,” said school board President Gary Pritchard. “It seems like at every turn Sacramento’s budget just keeps cutting our legs out from under us.”

“We look forward to the day when we actually can start building a program, [when] we have enough funds and revenue,” Pritchard said.

Other Business

  • Officials approved a redistricting map that changes the areas from which the school board's seven trustees are elected. In a 5-2 vote, the board chose Map J, which divides San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel into three sections and cuts Mission Viejo, Dana Point and San Clemente in two, but keeps Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita intact. During the discussion, Lynn Hatton proposed moving Tesoro High School from District 2 to District 7. Her motion carried and the new map passed 5-2, with trustees Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo dissenting. To view the new map (minus the addition of Tesoro High School to district 7), click here.
  • Between 30 to 50 people attended to support Eric Patton, a San Clemente High School football coach who was placed on administrative leave Aug. 15 following accusations of a kickback scheme involving an athletic supply company. A similar show of support took place Sept 13.
Pam Sunderman February 17, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Capo Parent, You're going to have to entertain yourself Capo Parent. I find this situation tragic...not entertaining. Put your popcorn away and contact Penny...I promise she will be interested in any proof you have of your theory.
Capo Parent February 17, 2012 at 05:27 AM
JG Instead taking more of my hard earned money, how sucking less at the public teat. I did propose solutions that were kid first, you didn't like them because they weren't union first, no surprise there. As for the current financial crisis, it was driven by both the public and private sectors. You convienently forget that it was the relaxing of lending standards and the drive for increased home ownership by the public sector that was the genesis of the crisis, though the private sector did play a very prominent role.
Capo Parent February 17, 2012 at 05:32 AM
JG How disappointing, your earlier fiction was verying entertaining. As for giving Penny a story, I don't think she needs one about events that happend two years ago when she is witnessing the collapse of CUSD. I'm going to go have fun, you debate yourself, who knows, you might win! :)
OC Mom February 17, 2012 at 05:39 AM
JG, I'm still waiting to hear what private sector jobs you think should compare with teachers for pay and education. Also, not sure why 7.5% paycut and a freeze on annual raises until the economic conditions in our district improve is a bad thing? My family took a 15% paycut last year in order to avoid unemployment. In the private sector when your company closes, relocates, lays off people etc. you need to quickly find another job or else risk becoming unemployed for long periods of time. Sometimes that job makes less than your prior job did. That lesser pay is still much greater than unemployment. The economy has caused companies to lay people off and try to run as efficiently as possible. Why can't our schools be run more efficiently like businesses are? Why are teachers better than any other human beings on the face of the planet?
shelly February 17, 2012 at 04:06 PM
OC mom, Most people took paycuts because our economy tanked. The teachers also took a paycut and will take another. I get it that you and many others believe that teachers are overpaid. I don't. I get where you and the others believe that it is only the teachers responsibility to pay for the cuts that need to be made. I don't. Our current taxes are not covering education. Since I am happy with my school choices for their education I would be willing to pay more. And yes CUSD MOM I would pay the $600 dollar per kid if I needed to and maybe a little more because that is what people do in a crisis. They pull together and help. It is not all the teachers responsibility to save us and our education. They are not the bad guys here. The economy is. In a crisis people want someone to blame and often it takes on a mob mentality. Look at this blog. Why don't people suggest a compromise. Cuts for teachers and parents and the community help. People are up in arms about this. They feel that they have paid enough. But right now it isn't enough. Look at the numbers. It just isnt enough. Teachers are the people who work with our kids and in CUSD they do a good job. They are part of our community and family of support. They are not the bad guys here. The economy is. You want your choice OC MOM, but I want mine too. I believe in public education for all. I know my children are receiving a good education. Teachers do an important job! Our kids! The Future!
Capo mom February 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
shelly, Why don't you look at the numbers. http://www.ocregister.com/news/pay-340505-average-school.html You keep saying CUSD teachers took a pay cut. They got a paper cut, their actual pay has not decreased. Average salaries have increased every year.
Tim Gaits February 17, 2012 at 05:13 PM
The CUEA and CUCF (the Union's hatchet people) may not be LEGALLY affiliated with each other, but they definitely coordinate with each other to win elections, no matter the cost. Why don't you ask Kris Korpi and Vicki Soderberg respectively if they have each other's personal phone numbers in their speed dial address book? That should satisfy a lot of questions right there. Guaranteed he has 24 hour access to her. and vice versa.
Tim Gaits February 17, 2012 at 05:17 PM
What "mistruths" were they telling? That the CUSD was nearing financial ruin and teachers needed to take a cut? Do you think the Fleming guard would have pointed this out? You seem to be mad because these were the guys who made the unions look in the mirror and face reality. As for single payer insurance, no need to look further than Canada to realize the medical rationing that would take place.
Tim February 17, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Don't forget about Tony Beall. He is up for reelection to RSM City Council in 2012. He has cost this district millions of dollars with his settlement, politics, and firing of Fleming. Please tell all your RSM neighbors to not vote for him.
cusd mom February 17, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Shelly, you definitely live in a Pollyanna world. I'm happy you can afford to donate at least 2400.00 to CUSD. Please be aware that many people cannot afford to pay....remember those title I schools you have been defending? Firefighters and police officers want more as well. So do many public employees. Should we all open our wallets for them as well? Many families are seeing their budgets stretched thin due to rising food and gas prices. (Gas is over 4 dollars a gallon now). More than likely we will be paying more sales taxes and those with incomes at a certain level will be paying higher income taxes. Even with the tax increases, CUSD has to cut 30 million from the budget and it is going to be very ugly. I believe in public education. However, we all have to face reality. There is only so much money to go around. I do assume you have a family budget and understand that concept? The OC Register database doesn't lie. The teachers in our district have not taken a pay cut. My family has taken a paycut in the form of decreased wages and increased health insurance premiums. There is no such thing as a cost of living adjustment or movement in a salary column in the private sector. I feel bad that the teachers have to face this, but the majority of us are dealing with this. It's obvious that your family hasn't had to make too many sacrifices Shelly because if they did you would be singing a different tune.
shelly February 17, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Capo mom, Thousands of dollars cut out of your salary may be a paper cut to you but to many teachers it required them to take on another job. I know you believe that teachers make too much but just how much do you think they should make for teaching our future citizens. In the real world teachers must pay for rent, mortgages, food, gas, etc. Costs of these increase every year. Teachers did not cause the economic crisis. We all did. We are all responsible to fix it if we want small class sizes and to save programs. You may not believe in public education for all but I do. It is not perfect and everything can be improved. You may not believe the teaching profession is of much value but I do. I know teachers are going to have to take a cut. But I also believe that the publc is also responsible to help. Sorry, I truly believe that since we all benefit we should all help. Even those without chidren benefit when we educate our population. You say you have kids in CUSD schools and yet you keep complaining about the quality of teachers and schools. Why keep your kids in if you believe they are so bad. Bad teachers can be fired if administrators follow through and do not pass the problem along. These articles about bad teachers also include a common theme of administrators no following through at some point. In CUSD I have known three teaches fired because administrators did follow through and did their job.
shelly February 18, 2012 at 04:16 AM
cusd mom, Teachers did take a paycut. Ask a teacher. Teachers, firefighters, police are not asking for more. They do their job and do it well and expect to be paid like everyone else is for doing their job. If they have to take a cut they will and they will still work hard for you and all of us. And maybe they will look for another job in the meantime or move to another state where people find what they do of value. Yes, lets all face reality. The reality is that we should all help. Teachers take cuts and the public pay more. Then cuts to education will be less. My family budget is stretched but I also have priorities. My children's education and future is my priority. I also find it unethical to ask others to do something that I will not do myself. Yes, many cannot afford to pay. But many can. Currently our taxes are not covering the education budget if we need to cut $30 million. I get that many of you feel teachers make too much. I get that you believe that it is only their responsibility to make up the 30 million. But I don't. I'd rather live in my Pollyanna world where I believe we all have responsibilites to help rather than live in a world where everyone feels like they have just done enough and it is always someone else's responsibility
cusd mom February 18, 2012 at 04:58 AM
So Shelly, please give your suggestions on how to cut 30-50 million from the CUSD budget. What tax increases are you proposing? I'm assuming you want more than Brown does? How much of the $$ should come from salary cuts and/or furlough days ? Please be specific. We're all waiting for your answer. Does it include a huge fundraiser in the community? It would have to be pretty spectacular considering it took quite a bit of work just to raise a million dollars to save CSR several years back.
shelly February 18, 2012 at 07:35 AM
CUSd mom, Really, you are waiting. I propose a parcel tax to save our district. Keep our tax dollars in our community. And salary cuts with restorative language that is when the length of the contract runs out the salaries are restored to their original amount. And some furlough days. I also propose a fundraiser if need be to save programs. What do you propose cusd mom? Do you have kids in CUSD schools? Should we, as parents, just stand on the sidelines and point fingers and tell our children that we already pay enought and it is their teachers fault and responsibility our taxes do not cover anything anymore? Is that really going to help?
shelly February 18, 2012 at 07:39 AM
Cusd mom, You do not know me or my family. You asked me about the $600 per child? Right? I answered you. It would be an extreme sacrifice to our family but education is important.
Capo mom February 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM
A parcel tax is unlikely to pass in CUSD for several reasons; 1) The governor's tax initiative and CTA has one too. Taxpayers are unlikely to vote for another tax. 2) My neighborhood is a fairly typical one in CUSD. Of the dozen homes immediately surrounding mine, our family is the only one that chose to send their children to public schools. One family is homeschooling their children, 3 others send their kids to private schools. The rest either don't have kids or don't have school age kids. Most families don't know anything about CUSD, except that it has problems and always has as far as they are concerned. These families won't vote for a parcel tax. 3) Only those who own property can vote on the issue. 4)The board will never initiate a measure for it. The reform trustees wouldn't for sure and the union's trustees know it would be political suicide. Pull your head out of the clouds and try again, shelly.
shelly February 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Capo mom, I live in a middle income neighborhood where most of the kids go to public school. What do you believe is the solution? Only the teachers make the sacrifices? Do you not believe that keeping the money locally is a good idea? I am from a small town where when the schools needed money the community voted levy's to help the schools. They passed because the community believed it was important to support the children of their community (rich and poor). My heads are not in the clouds. I realize where I live. I live in south Orange County.
cusd mom February 18, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Shelly, I voted for a parcel tax several years ago and it is stil on my property tax bill. It was measure A. As far as I'm concerned, that money was not used wisely. A big chunk of it went to the new high school, which was way overpriced. Another chunk went to a middle school in Rancho Santa Margarita that should have made use of mello roos funds instead. Mello Roos funds were used to partially fund our administration building which is at least half empty. Now, several of our older schools still need repairs and our measure A funds are basically dried up. I believe I read somewhere that we are around 100 million in the hole for deferred maintenance in these buildings. I grew up in a small town as well outside of this state. The financing of education was and still is totally different than it is here. We definitely do have a problem but I honestly believe things will need to get MUCH worse before our state does anything above it. I am thinking bankruptcy. That is the reality Shelly whether we like it or not.
cusd mom February 18, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Fundraising when we are 30-50 million in the hole? That's a lot of bake sales. And a parcel tax? How much? Only people with kids in CUSD schools would consider voting for it the way things are right now. We would need at least 15 furlough days, which I am anticipating happening.
Capo mom February 19, 2012 at 12:37 AM
shelly, just how many heads do you have? When I said your head is in the clouds, I was only thinking you had one and I was being kind. Why don't you try to get the union's trustees to work on a parcel tax.
shelly February 19, 2012 at 01:13 AM
CUSd mom, Alleviating the population of middle schools and high schools is not a good investment? HMMM. So we should have just kept the schools we had and had over 3000 at each high school and upped the populations of the middle schools in the area instead of building new schools? I am from a small town and grew up with people who helped each other in the community (rich or poor). So instead of our schools going under people would step up and help no matter if they had helped before. There was not a quota on helping.
shelly February 19, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Capo mom, Were you really being kind? Was that really your intention or were you actually trying to insult me. I try to teach my children that being kind is really what we should all strive for. Especially when we have different opinions. I am the proudest of my kids when they are kind. To me my children will be successful if they are kind to others throughout their lives. As I said before we are in dire straights. Some may wish for bankruptcy and failure of our district for political reasons but is it really good for all the children of CUSD or just for your own. There are 7 Trustees. 4 reform trustees who ran and won against union endorsed candidates and 3 non reform trustees. I would suggest to all the trustees no matter what you label them to be, Capo Mom, and to the public to look beyond politics and their own needs to what is best for the children of CUSD. Teachers, administrators, parents and the public working together as a community.
Capo mom February 19, 2012 at 01:49 AM
shelly, I am kind a lot. Regarding your quest for a CUSD parcel tax: Good luck with that. CUSD parents now have "local control", so don't fail to report your progress. Be sure to let us know how it works out.
cusd mom February 19, 2012 at 04:21 AM
What you fail to understand Shelly is that the district did not use the funds it had properly. When people voted for measure A, they assumed the funds would be used for older school improvements. Some older schools did get upgrades. Others did not. Mello Roos and other funding should have been used for the new high school and the expansion of the k-8 in Rancho. BTW, San Juan HIlls is actively recruiting students in other areas of the district because it has the lowest population of the high schools in CUSD. The district could have redrawn boundaries to relieve some of the overpopulated schools but has chosen not to do so because they don't want too many Hispanic students at the school. A parcel tax will not pass in this economy and the current board (reform or non-reform) does not have the stomach to even bring it up. You still have not really answered my question fully on how to come up with the 30-50 million dollars to fix our budget problem. It's not realistic to think every family in CUSD is going to step up and open their wallets to donate several hundred dollars.
Capo Parent February 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Many forget that one of the false promises made by CUSD during the Fleming/Dommey reign was that a school was going to be built in north MV where Flo Jo park now sits. People in north MV were told Measure A was needed to build the school even though CUSD had already determined the site was not feasible for a school. Between the new admin. building & SJHHS CUSD has wasted roughly $50 million if not more. While CUSD may have needed a new HS when SJHHS was planned and built, SJHHS should not have been built were it is at and for the astronomic amount of money that was allocated, well over $150 million and it is still not finished! Giving CUSD more money is like giving a crack cocaine addict more crack. Before CUSD should be allowed to spend an additional monies received on salaries & benefits, the deferrend manitenance & repairs for the schools should be completed, cancelled & under/nonfunded programs & classes restored, and reasonable reforms of pensions & health care benefits enacted. Also, the top adminstrators salaries & compensation packages need to reduced significantly. While most teachers in CUSD are not great/excellent, those that are should be paid on par with Farley & the rest of the top CUSD administrators. Farley is grossly over paid and grossly under performed.
Pam Sunderman February 19, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Capo parent, How far back are you willing to go to back up your insistence that the current crisis in CUSD is not about the economic downturn IN THE ENTIRE WORLD? And just for clarification...pensions cannot be reformed at the local level...no matter who the trustees are.
shelly February 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM
cusd mom, Why is it realistic to ask every teacher to give up 15% or more of their income and not expect others to contribute? I understand that it would be easier to get the teachers to take the cut and take the blame rather than ask people to step up. I get this because there are people like you and others on this blog who say they will not help because they feel like they have helped enough but I feel like there are also people like me who would be willing to help. I am a real and others like me are real. Mellos roos were used for the new high school and still are. And if the new high school was not build or the k=8 not expanded where would the 2000 kids in SJHHS have gone or the kids at the k-8 have gone? They would have impacted other schools. So you prefer we have bigger middle schoolsand high schools that are added on to then build then to build other schools? I understand that you did not agree with the k-8 in your neighborhood or SJHHS but they are here now and kids are utilizing them. La pata was supposed to go through and still will (eventually) and so many kids from forestor and talega will eventually choose sjhhs as an option. I voted against sjhhs when it came up to vote in san Juan. The voters in San Juan turned it down but the school district at the time went through with it. It is a crummy location but a great school.
shelly February 19, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Capo Mom, So happy that you are kind a lot and I understand that it is easier to insult than to have a discussion.
Capo Parent February 19, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Shelly Reality is a hard concept for you. At some point Brick was a reform trustee. However, since the new board has come into power and his mental issues have worsened, he has voted yes to every pro union proposal. He votes as he is told. That was made abundantly clear at the Mardh16, 2011 meeting. Anna Bryson is a loose cannon, she was a mistake from the beginning. She will vote in the manner that best serve her self-interests, case in point, Map J. She wanted DHHS in her area even though that would screwup the proposed boundaries for all the other areas. I'm all in favor of breaking up CUSD. It's dysfunctional, poorly run and has bad karma. Actually, CUSD & SVUSD should be combined and school attendance areas redrawn. As for your repeated claim that everyone should work together, that'a pipe dream. CUSD had reduced revenue, and the unions want as much of it as they can get (that's their job, I get it, you don't), but that conflict's with trying to put as much money in nonteaching services & needs such as programs, equipment, maintenance, repairs, etc.
shelly February 20, 2012 at 01:56 AM
capo parent, Brick ran and won as a reform candidate. Bryson ran with Addonizio and won as a reform candidate and against the union endorsed candidate twice so when people say we have a union board it is a fallacy. We have mixed board. I did not vote for either Brick or Bryson so I have no need to defend them. I did not elect them. Who do you think implements the programs? Teachers. Equipment, buildings whatever will be worthless if you do not have teachers. When people quote the 90% number of the budget going to salary and benefits only a little over 60% of that goes to teachers. Administrators, maintenance employess, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, etc. are included in that 90%. I agree our district is much too big but it is what we have currently. I am suggesting that if you expect teachers and other employees to do their part by taking cuts then parents and the public should do theirs and help if they want the same benefits of our education system.

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