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CUSD to Consider a Shrinking Budget

The Board of Trustees will discuss Wednesday its 2012-13 budget, which would slash three weeks off of next year's school calendar in a worst-case scenario.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See related stories, and .

The Board of Trustees will consider a budget for 2012-13 which is dramatically smaller than the one for the school year that just ended.

This coming school year, the school district is expecting $323 million in revenues and $331 million in expenses. Compared to last year, total revenues are down 11.4 percent, while total expenses are down 13.4 percent.

The budget assumes voters reject the to help the state fill a budget gap of its own.

In January, Gov. Brown said if his temporary sales tax and income tax on those making more than $250,000 don’t pass, school districts would have to cut the academic year short by three weeks.

That is just what CUSD is proposing in its agreements with its various unions.

In addition, the budget proposes to reduce non-teachers’ salaries, freeze automatic salary increases for teachers and Teamster members and increase class size across all grade levels by 1.5 students per class.

Despite these cuts, the district will face a negative cash flow.

In a certification notice it must send to the Orange County Department of Education, the district answers the question, “Do cash flow projections show that the district will end the budget year with a negative cash balance in the general fund?” with a yes.

Last year, that question was answered with a no, but still the district did not make it through to the end of the school year without having to take  and asking for the state .

Other features of the budget

It redirects – or in district parlance “sweeps” – $11 million targeted for specific programs into the general fund.  , some of these moves may include the defunding of:

  • Advanced Placement fee reimbursement
  • PE teacher incentive grants
  • Community-based English tutors
  • Intensive instruction for students studying to take the California High School Exit Exam
  • School counselor grants (for grades 7-12)
  • Administrative training program
  • Pupil retention block grants

In addition, many programs will be drastically reduced and offered on a “minimal basis,” including:

  • Almost all of the summer school budget
  • $1.2 of the $1.6 million for deferred maintenance
  • $226,441 of the $333,730 for GATE students
  • Most—$2 million of the $2.8 million—for textbook repair, replacement

The budget also redirects $1.2 million in deferred maintenance to the general fund. 

Expenditures in a super category called “books and supplies” will increase slightly, but actual purchases of new books will be down, 25 percent for textbooks and core curricula material and 98.5 percent in books and other reference materials.

The additional spending comes from a 24.6-percent increase in “materials and supplies.” There's no notation explaining what these might be and why their price is going up.

While the required-by-law threshold of keeping 2 percent of the district’s cash in reserves is maintained in the proposed budget, the actual number has decreased by 13.1 percent to reflect the overall smaller budget. Last year, the district had $7.6 million in reserves. This year, it will have $1 million less.

The trustees meet 7 p.m. Wednesday at the district headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I'm sorry, mathteacher, we don't allow personal attacks against other commentators. It stops here. When we stick to the topic at hand and not personalities, it results in a much better conversation. Thanks!
Shripathi Kamath June 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM
@Penny "I'm sorry, mathteacher, we don't allow personal attacks against other commentators." At best, this is selective memory, at worst, selective enforcement. But always, full of good intentions.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I do my best, SK. You can ask Capo Parent and Capo Mom whether I've either publicly admonished them or just deleted their comments. So no, you're wrong about selective enforcement. But in the end, this site runs 24-7, and I occasionally cover, you know, NEWS. And sleep.
Shripathi Kamath June 27, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Person A attacks the professional integrity of Person B, leveling charges of being ignorant in his/her field. Person B wonders if taking the log out of his/her eyes would better enable Person A to see the speck. Person B gets chastised. Person A ... nothing. Odd? Perhaps, but that fits the selective enforcement thingy. As fair as you are, this is a hard thing to moderate, I agree. But it is usually the second foul, (and only the second foul) that gets called.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 06:53 PM
There are nuances. People may attack public officials, public figures and limited public figures at a different intensities than average posters. Sometimes, the threads get too unruly, and I can't find every offense. And yeah, sometimes, I like to eat. Or take my kids to their various events.
shelly June 27, 2012 at 07:54 PM
So it is okay to insult teachers because it happens all the time? And it is okay to insult people who defend teachers because that happens all the time on Patch with no admonishing or deleting. The problem is as fact checker says there is less to spend.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Math teacher---Without knowing you, I can tell you are one of the 10 amazing teachers at your school. A quicker way to get rid of the 15 teachers at your school that are not worth the weight of their clothes has to be developed, and a blended merit tenure would do just that. There are outstanding teachers in the district who have been teaching here for 10 years who are still “temporary” and on the RIF list this year. Is this the beginning of what we all hope for? Solid performance for significant time before granting tenure? In every profession there are underperformers, but when a union is involved, these underperformers are encouraged to continue their despicable ways. “Average” teachers need a performance plan that will put them in the “Great" category. I think Amazing teachers cannot be created. They come with a passion for educating those under their stewardship that is a gift they bring to humanity, but average teachers can be taught skills to become great. This is where our money should be going, and below average and “get out of my school I hate you” teachers should not be tolerated for one single day. Without a union this could happen.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I just have a tremendous distaste for unions in general, as I believe they breed mediocrity and waste valuable income that could stay in the members’ pockets. I’d like to take all the teachers’union leaders’ pay and put it back in the teachers’ salaries. Unions protect jobs of the lazy at the expense of the excellent. Many good teachers that are friends of mine would like to negotiate their own contract, just like Math Teacher, because like him/her, they are passionate about their profession, and they are worth their weight in platinum. Some type of blended merit/tenure compensation would be so much better, but the unions are so entrenched in the Ed Code (state law), that it is impossible without major changes in state law, and we all see how twisted Sacramento is.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 08:45 PM
The key to our education financial crisis is multi-faceted: Get the money to the local district level; Get rid of the unions and replace them with a blended merit tenure evaluation system about which I have good ideas; fire the below average and “get out of my school I hate you” teachers; and spend money moving the “Average” teachers to “Great” status. I believe K-12 teaching should be the highest paid profession in our country with the above mentioned merit tenure system in place, and I am not nor have ever been a school teacher. We need to stop bashing the teachers and look at changes that will really make a difference. What about getting rid of the redundant County Dept of Education, getting rid of wasteful positions at the State Board of Education, demanding equalization in state funding, and demanding the federal portion of Special Education? There is no good reason that Laguna Beach Unified should be getting more tax money per pupil than CUSD based on an antiquated 30 year old formula, yet despite PTAs, parents, and others pulling for this, nothing happens in Sacramento. Additionally, demanding the federal funding of the federally mandated costs of Special needs children would halt the ever encroaching drain on the general fund.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Local control of funding is a huge piece of the puzzle. Once the money is in the hands of our local district, it can address the specific needs in our district instead of being forced to use categorical funds for things we don’t need. I know that our district would have millions more in revenue if it weren’t all siphoned off by the state and county and redistributed to other districts before it gets to us, but we just aren’t loud enough to get it changed. Instead we blame teachers for striking when they have no choice but to do so or face the consequences. During the strike my daughter’s music teacher, an outstanding educator, crossed the picket line to take her students to a scheduled music festival at which they brought home top honors, putting the cost of the transportation on her own credit card to make it happen because the district cancelled the trip as a result of the strike. She faced tremendous persecution for putting the kids ahead of the union, and she was not rehired for the following year. If parents had even a small voice in who stays and who goes during budget cuts, I’m sure this teacher would be inspiring music students in our district today.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Math Teacher – You are one of the heroes of your profession; Shelly – you always have wise and thoughtful posts; and Penny – you have done a great job researching and in keeping us informed.
Steve Lortech June 27, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Heidi, you've presented the most informed, objective, and agreeable (to me any way) approach that I've heard yet! I'm a teacher, and I support your ideas 100%. Run for the Board and/or Superintendent of CUSD.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Every grade has its challenges. Elementary and especially K-1 teachers have the challenge of meeting the needs of a tremendously diverse group of ability levels, from kids who have had no preschool and developed no academic or fine motor skills to kids who are reading and capable of math at a second grade level or higher and can color and use scissors better than an adult. Self worth and creative thinking is either preserved or crushed during these years. By middle and high school, kids are grouped and classed by ability levels, which means the teacher of the “loser kids” has to work way harder to motivate and show progress. Middle school teachers have the challenge of dealing with the wide range of hormone fluctuations and all the insecurity and social and emotional turmoil that brings to that age group that absolutely impacts the academic experience. High school teachers have a myriad of other challenges where students, with increasing pressures of alcohol and drug abuse mixed with promiscuity and lack of general respect, need to be carefully guided by teachers who appreciate and respect the students’ intellect, and guide them to wise choices, personal responsibility, academic humility and excellence, and altruistic opportunities.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 09:02 PM
At every phase of a child’s life, teachers are equally important, and if the elementary and middle school teachers don’t do their job, the high school teachers are left holding the bag. Each teacher is part of a team of a 12-13 year long project to prepare a child for a productive place in society.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I didn't really see that comment as offensive, as I have found that observation/old wive's tale, or whatever you would call that, to be true in real life and it even has a term in the field of Psychology - projection.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Heidi, Things can go ugly quick here, so if I see someone veering toward the personal, I gently nudge him back to the topic at hand. If something's actually a violation to Patch's Terms of Service (as I see fit, sorry, them's the rules), I delete it altogether. It can be an exhausting task because people are very emotional about their schools, and unfortunately, bad behavior has been exhibited by all sides. On a related note, if someone posts information I know to be inaccurate, I correct it. I don't take a stand myself, but I do present the information I have gathered in my reporting. I want Patch to be an open forum for ALL, but unfortunately, some factions believe if I allow others who disagree with them to post, that somehow, we're in "bed" with them. I don't shut down varying viewpoints on the issues, just personal attacks on private citizens.
Heidi Andrews June 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM
@ Penny, I see your point, and I'm a rose colored glasses girl, so tend to see everything that way which has resulted in me being burned more than a few times, so I appreciate your clearer view and experience in keeping our conversations more objective.
Capo Parent June 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM
The steps that Moonbeam and the legislature are taking to bludgeon the public into voting for taxes increases is unparalleled and disgusting. First, 15 furlough days over this year next two years, now plans for 15 furlough days this year and 15 furlough days next year. Further, if the tax increases pass, college tuition will be frozen, if not, further draconian cuts will be implemented. Stockton filing for BK is just the beginning.
Capo Parent June 27, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Actually, the problem is that for the last number of years the gov. & legislature have spent more than the state gets, and the continuing diverting of education funding to prop up overspending, which has resulted in a $7 billion IOU to education. Education doesn't need additional funding, it needs to get the funding that it is owed.
Capo Parent June 27, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Heidi Well written, but I do take exception to certain facts as you portray them. The strike was a concerted effort by CTA and CUEA to get control of or being in a position to greatly influence the board and how trustees are elected. CTA didn't put up $250,000 for nothing. Brilliant organization and strategy. CTA & CUEA won. Almost 2 years later we see the results. Even in the face of devastating cuts, the teachers union will not even considered modest pay cuts with no reduction in health benefits and possibly a slight reduction in pension benefits. Instead, it wants the maximum amount of furlough days in order to inflict the maximum amount of pain on the students & parents in CUSD in order to get the parents to get rid of furlough days ASAP. Nothing says it's all about the children - NOT, better. To make matters worse, there will be additional release days for teachers, meaning teachers get paid for not working in the class, and CUSD has to pay for subs, brilliant! To make matters even more damming, CUSD continues to pay roughly $225,000 for the salaries & benefits of the presidents of CUEA & CSEA even though neither does any work for CUSD! What has occurred was easily foreseeable. My message to the teachers union and its members, look at what has happened in WI, San Diego, San Jose, New Jersey & most recently, Stockton.
Heidi Andrews June 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM
@ Capo Parent - I do agree with absolutely everything you just said. The teachers are the pawns in the grand scheme and parents and kids pay the price. I'm just saying teachers don't have much choice and when they rebel, as some who chose not to picket, or still showed up in their classroom, there were consequences against them. Your message to the teachers and the unions is written on the wall - - - and you don't need to be a genius to see the probable outcome. The well from parents has run dry and no matter how much we want to support our kids education, the unions have got to go - not just in education, but in all public sectors.
Capo Parent June 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Heidi You misread the last part of my post. I was not advocating or suggesting that public employee unions be eliminated. Instead, it was a stark warning of what is happening, and the fact many (not all) public employee unions are not correctly reading the tea leaves and that they wrongful assume overwhelming public support for them on all issues. IMHO, the teachers union in CUSD falls in that category. Well see what happens in November.
Heidi Andrews June 28, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Good Lord, Steve, I'd be eaten alive and chewed up and spit back out. Believe me, my forays in trying to make things better with volunteer work and pouring way to much of my own funds in developing programs that really make a difference in kids lives to try and fill in the holes caused by budget cuts have been met repeatedly with concerted efforts to destroy me in more ways than I wish to count. I have a nightmare that it may take a state bancruptcy to effect real and constructive change, and I have a vision of having to homeschool my future grandchildren while both their parents work themselves to death to keep food on the table. Ok it is a bit of an exaggeration, but public education is definitely in grave danger in California.
Shripathi Kamath June 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Heidi, there is an old idiom that says "No good deed goes unpunished." I think whoever said that was, shall we say, a little intoxicated, because the appropriate thing to have blurted would have been "No good deed shall go unpunished" Otherwise, everyone would be trying to do a good deed, like doing some volunteer work, offer solutions that will be ridiculed, hum "Friday, Friday" in their spare time...
shelly June 28, 2012 at 01:23 AM
It was and is the perception that teaching is not a profession to value that brought about teachers unions and is why they are still in need. Just read the comments of "they only work 8 months", "its a part time job", "elementary school teachers should get less", "older teachers are burnt out" "we could hire two new teachers for the cost of one old one", "teachers are not very smart because others with similar education are really smarter". Teachers would be crazy to disband their union in this climate. And if public education fails it will not be the fault of teachers or their union. It will be the fault of us, the people, who did not support it. The state of the economy and the budget situation is not the fault of teachers or public unions.
fact checker June 28, 2012 at 04:23 AM
The best way to deal with the problems facing public schools is respectfully and openly. If the solution was simple it would have been put in place a long time ago. Public education is a dynamic system. It changes with the times and it should. But it should never be politicized. The attack on unions is a political movement. Local control is a great concept. While working for local control of funding it is also possible for teachers, parents, staff and trustees to work TOGETHER to make decisions about what they CAN control.
Denise Krane June 28, 2012 at 05:19 AM
I take no offense at mathteacher's response. In fact I find it demonstrative. His assumptions about human nature are naive in the extreme and contradicts his earlier statements. It is simply wrong to think that if one is honest and works hard, everyone does as well. Examine this idea in reverse. Do lazy people assume everyone else is lazy? No, they count on they fact there are others to take up their slack. There are some great teachers in CUSD-but they are the exception, not the rule. The majority are pulled down to a lower level of practice by the fact that all they have to do is get by. Their lesson plans are in place, their class sizes are increasing. There is simply no incentive to do more. Some teachers will spend the summer trying to figure out how to fit their whole curriculum into 3 weeks less, but most will not. mathteacher asks how I'd react in a tenured position. The answer is; I wouldn't. I'd never embrace a career where my efforts and achievements wouldn't be recognized, where I wouldn't be accountable for my mistakes. I'd never choose to balance my livelihood on the backs on children.
cusd mom June 28, 2012 at 06:51 AM
I guess Alpay and Pritchard didn't read your post, fact checker. Especially your first sentence.
fact checker June 28, 2012 at 06:57 AM
Were you at the meeting?
bbq June 28, 2012 at 09:05 AM
fact checker, What do you mean by "work TOGETHER" exactly? What is your suggestion?

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