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Parents Leave CUSD Budget Forum Informed, Disheartened

The community forum was sparsely attended Thursday night.

Some classrooms in are already filled to the brim, and Sonja Beck, president of the PTA at can’t imagine more.

“I’m already tripping over kids when I’m helping in the classroom.  [The students] are right up next to each other,” Beck said.

But after hearing a presentation on the , she acknowledged that increased class sizes are just one of the many ways the district is going to have to tighten its belt next year.

About a dozen parents and a few children attended . The event conflicted with open houses as at least four elementary schools.

Superintendent Joseph Farley began the session explaining the need to cut as much as $50 million for the next school year. While officials , the rest will have to come from concessions with the district’s four employee groups.

Negotiations are ongoing, and Farley described the mood as “very, very collaborative.”

“We have had a very good professional relationship with our associations this year, and I think they will ratify the concessions we are seeking.  They have significant power and authority through the negotiations.”

About 91 percent of the district’s budget is tied to personnel, Farley said.

“In a normal funding cycle and we haven’t been normal for a while, I would say you would be high if you had 85-87 percent personnel,” he said.

About $18 million in cuts can be restored, Farley said, if the voters pass for temporary sales tax hikes and on increased taxes on those making $250,000-plus.

The Orange County Department of Education is allowing the district to submit a budget that can react to what happens in November, Farley said. In other words, if the tax measure doesn’t pass, the district will lop off instructional days at the end of the school year and the employees will take furlough days.

“Until 4 years ago, there was never the word furlough in this district. The school day was sacred,” Farley said.

But if the district is going to need to take furlough days, then it makes more sense to have them altogether “in one lump sum” than scattered throughout the year, Farley said.

Other cost-saving measures include freezing automatic salary advancements, laying off some teachers to increase class sizes and pay cuts. However, , no employee cuts are contemplated if Brown’s tax initiative passes, and only the district wants to consider them if it doesn’t.

Farley walked the audience through the savings each kind of cut could save.

“They’re large numbers. It’s getting to the point where it’s getting frightening,” he said.

Basically, if the tax measures don’t pass, the district will be returning to the funding levels it received in 2003-04, said Clark Hampton, deputy superintendent of business services.

“It’s really disheartening to hear,” said Cindi Wolfert, who has children at and , both in Mission Viejo.” I have the same feeling listening to the radio today about the economy. It’s not getting better.”

The Board of Trustees will hear an update about the budget at its next meeting, 7 p.m. Monday at the district's headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

Yeparoo June 08, 2012 at 10:55 PM
You're still missing the point, that's still your false assumption. They are not charging more in taxes to offer a superior education. Their taxes are dramatically lower and they are paying their teachers significantly more. The adage "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," is out the window in Singapore. They make the smartest university graduates offers that are too good to pass up to become school teachers rather than work in the private sector. You can strip out defense spending and interest and the numbers are still staggering. Where is the money going? I think too many people in the US are sitting on hands waiting for the nipple to get close enough to drink. As long as the public sector unions can play the Norma Rae movies on continuous reel in the union halls, they'll brain wash them forever.
Jim Reardon June 09, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Don't forget that only 6 cents of each dollar of tax increase would actual reach schools within Orange County. And according to existing funding formulae, CUSD would be somewhere near the bottom in terms of benefits. If you vote for a the taxes this Fall, you are voting to support LAUSD and the state's general fund. Nothing else.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Me thinks even Pam, the alter ego of Jollygirl, has reached the point that even she couldn't defend the indefensible. Both the teachers union & CUSD are throwing our kids under the bus. We as parents need to stand up and be heard. If we do not, then shame on us because our kids will truly be unrepresented.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Furlough days are not pay cuts. The compensation schedule remains in effect and the pension contributions are not effected. The union's proposal is clearly designed to place the most burden on the least protected, but the most important stakeholder, the students, while providing the maximum protection for its salaries & benefits. The selection of 15 furlough days is not a happen-chance. It is now the maximum # of furlough days teachers can take before their pension benefits are adversely effected. It is extremely disheartening to watch CUSD pander to the teachers union.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Why not reasonable pay cuts for the teachers union until increase funding is actually received by CUSD? This would allow for more instructional time for students, reduce CUSD's outflow of cash (which is very limited commodity CUSD has at this time) from both from a reduction in payroll and pension contributions. Since the teachers union has only taken a 1.5% reduction in pay that has since been negated for many teachers through step & column increases, a reasonable pay cut is very reasonable and appropriate.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 04:04 AM
No offense but your are one the simple minded sheep that Moonbeam & his allies are counting on to raise taxes. Education is already owed over $7 billion by the state. The state has been fleecing education for years counting on the mindless mass to pay more taxes to save our beloved education. Since the state deficit has grown significantly since Moonbeam announced his proposed tax increases, and projected revenue from the tax increases has been lowered, where do you think Moonbeam is going to the needed additional funding-education. It is ironic that the Demos in SAC, who claim education as one of their key issues, and who are greatly influenced by CTA, have fleeced billions from funds earmarked for education, to support their ever increasing social spending.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Furlough days, up to 15, do not effect the teachers union pay schedule or the pension contributions by CUSD. Bottom line, it's all about protecting the teachers union pensions at the expense of our kids.
Moving On June 09, 2012 at 04:10 AM
CP - It is simple why they will not take a pay cut and agree with Furlough days - they can say they received a pay cut (everyone else will take an actual pay cut). They accept the furlough days because if by some miracle money comes in, they do not have to take these days and their salary stays the same. The other reason, is they want the salary schedule to stay the same. If by chance they get a raise some day, they want if off the CURRENT salary schedule, NOT on the salary schedule with the pay cuts!!! They are throwing the kids under the bus and it is another union gimmick. If 15 days holds true, do you really think that they will teach up to the very last minute? No, so if the last 2 weeks of school are a joke now, then in reality, the kids are missing out on 5 weeks of class (last 2 weeks of school + 15 furlough days).
LeAna Bui June 09, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Since Pam has left the building and I will share what I've been told is why teachers prefer furlough days. 1. Parents don't like them so they get restored faster, 2. there is no argument over "restorative language."
LeAna Bui June 09, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Yeparoo also fails to note that Singapore makes requirements on the students as well. The teachers in Singapore do not bear the burden alone.
LeAna Bui June 09, 2012 at 04:58 AM
So all of you are fine and dandy with the teachers bearing all of the cuts? You don't want to pay more, you don't want your child in a class with more students, but it is okay for the teachers to take home less money as long as you are not hurt. At least furlough days spread the pain to everyone and maybe some folks who haven't been paying attention will now and will step up to help make changes in the system?
LeAna Bui June 09, 2012 at 05:07 AM
When times were good (which is when reform was most likely) ~2000-2004, CUCPTSA (with the support of the union) lobbied hard for equalization in funding. There have been bills passed equalizing funding, but money was never allocated to equalize funding. You have to remember, as hard as we advocate for equalized funding, those districts who are enjoying more money advocate just as hard to ensure they keep their share of the pie. Who win? No one.......
LeAna Bui June 09, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Many of these countries also only educate the top students. Those students who don't keep up and dropped and left behind or left untested.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Given how many board meetings Hatton has missed I am surprised she showed up.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 04:01 PM
LB So the teachers union wants furlough days because (1) parents don't like them so they get restored faster; and (2) no arguement over restoration language. I guess the fact that the teachers union can take up to 15 furlough days without a change in pay schedule and no reduction in pension benefits played no part in the teachers union insistence on furlough days only. Since the teachers union only represents its members, it is not surprising it would be self-centered on its members; and that it has no qualms about throwing our kids/students under the "bus," from what we have heard to date, neither does CUSD.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 04:12 PM
LB The fallacy of your argument is that you fail to recognize or understand the cuts & hits most families in CUSD have suffered over the last several years. At best, the teachers union has taken a 1.5% pay cut that has been largely wiped out by step & column increases. So what you & other union allies want is parents & students to take even large hits while preserving as much as possible the teachers union's salaries & benefits; if the parents & students don't what this to happen, vote for more taxes. What you comments make clear is that the teachers union & its allies are will to make students & parents in CUSD suffer even more in order to maximize that flow to the teachers union. If parents don't see and understand this charade and decide to stand up and advocate for their kids, then our kids will be used & abused as financial pawns by the teachers union.
Frieda Wales June 09, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Capo Parent, I would take your discussion points seriously but for 2 issues (maybe 3?). The first issue being that right from the get go you called me a simple sheep. Secondly, you then used the nickname Moonbeam instead of the governor's name or political office name. However much trouble I may have with a particular person's politics. I try (try, doesn't always work) to at least honor their position held. The 3rd possible reason is that even though you added "no offense", it doesn't actually take away the offense of calling me a simple sheep.
Frieda Wales June 09, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Someone, can't remember who now, just explained this. It has to do w/the days possibly being reinstated if the money's become available. I can understand that. During the strike the big issue was that the pay cuts be temporary. When I had to take a pay cut it was clearly stated temporary and that was a huge relief to me at the time to know it wasn't permanent.
Capo Parent June 09, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Whether you take me seriously or not is clearly your prerogative. However, whether you take me seriously or not, you didn't counter the points I made. As for calling our governor "Moonbean," it is not a name I made up. Many call him that name, and many call him worse. I think the name is well earned and appropriate, Just look at his stance on high speed rail to nowhere.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 09, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I agree with PCM, you'd get more people to consider your points without the insults, which are not negated by "no offense." On the other hand, you're free to insult the governor all you like. He's an elected politician, therefore a public official under libel laws.
Frieda Wales June 09, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Yeparoo, more anecdotal evidence for you - I have to admit that one of the smartest people I know (and I have a lot of smart friends) is from Singapore. She is a well rounded, funny, SUPER smart mom who also happens to be a biology professor at a university. But why isn't she in Singapore? She now lives in the U.S. What do the citizens of Singapore bargain for when they put such a high emphasis on education? Is the educational model of Singapore one we want, and if so, do we also want all the other models that Singapore offers? I have been taught that when you envy something that someone else has, you should always look at the bigger picture and ask yourself "do I want EVERYTHING that person has"? It would be nice to read studies that address what parts of the Singapore model would or could work well in the U.S. and what changes would be necessary to reach those goals.
Yeparoo June 09, 2012 at 05:47 PM
“Moonbeam also stands for not being the insider,” said Mr. Brown. “But standing apart and marching to my own drummer. And I’ve done that.” How Jerry Brown Became ‘Governor Moonbeam’ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/weekinreview/07mckinley.html I met Gov Brown back when he looked like the picture in this story. Damn, we got old. I always thought he liked the moniker. I think the problem with the nickname now is most people don't remember much about the last time he was governor and he no longer lives up to the name. He's more like a tired Unionist Democrat, not a Progressive Democrat.
Yeparoo June 09, 2012 at 05:59 PM
PC Mama - Yes, you are absolutely correct. Keep an open mind. Research. Keep an open mind. Implement. Keep an open mind. Assess. etc, etc. The stats are from The Economist, a publication that follows scientific methods to find answers. And I am pro-immigration. Especially on the higher end of the spectrum. Not surprising a well educated person from Singapore is a university professor here.
randy June 09, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Yep, more likely he is a if-not broken-don't-fix type.
Frieda Wales June 09, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Singapore apparently has a "guest worker" type program for maids as well. Is that something the U.S. should take seriously as well? How do they treat these maids? Do the maids leave families behind? Are they allowed to marry a Singapore national? All things we would take for granted here. Do they have guest worker programs for custodians in their schools? Do the school children clean the schools like they do in Japan? I think Newt Gingrich brought that up as an idea here, but only for those students facing financial need and the idea was not well met by the U.S. It was seen as separatist and un-American. Do we want America to be more like Singapore in many other ways or just education. Thanks for the convo! It's been interesting learning a little more about Singapore. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/05/19/indonesian-maids-arrive-s-pore-next-month.html
Yeparoo June 09, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Why Jerry Brown’s Bid to Fix California’s Budget Isn’t Working May 15, 2012 3:13 PM EDT California’s fiscal crisis is mushrooming, and Governor Moonbeam seems powerless to stop it. Joe Mathews on Brown’s call for ‘stoicism,’ and why it’s not working. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/15/why-jerry-brown-s-bid-to-fix-california-s-budget-isn-t-working.html
Lawrene Bottorf June 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
@ Randy...no I think he is more of a "If it's not broke...let's break it" kinda guy.
randy June 09, 2012 at 08:01 PM
LB, that's good anothr way to say, and probably we the public break his type.
Teacher June 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM
bbq, I would like to know who is saying "everything is for the children".
Frieda Wales June 10, 2012 at 09:06 PM
LeAnn, yes, in looking through wiki web pages on Singapore's educational system, they seem to have several different tracks. I wonder if they stop tracking "education" when the track becomes "vocational" or something along those lines? Not too relevant to our schools here in South OC though. The old Apples to Oranges.

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