Despite the uncertain school finance picture, Merced City School District Board of Education members approved something that constitutes good news -- hiring 29 new teachers for this fall.
Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran told the board there's not much news on the state budget front, so the district will have to plan for the worst-case scenario should Gov. Brown's tax initiative fail in the November election.
"We have to plan for the worst and go from there," Parga Duran said during Tuesday's meeting. "I'm trying to be optimistic that things will work out for us."
The district will be OK for this year but after that there may be an issue, Parga Duran said.
Board members approved the hiring of 29 teachers, some full time and some part time, for the school year beginning Monday.
Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services, said agreements with employee unions to take five furlough days during the current school year, coupled with 14 teacher retirements and a resignation, facilitated the new hires.
"The number of staff members is very similar to what we had last year," Spicer said. "The budget is sustained through this year but will be affected next year and beyond if the tax initiative doesn't pass. Everybody up and down the state will be sharpening their pencils."
Trustee Darrell Cherf said the board probably will pass a resolution supporting one of the tax measures on the November ballot that aim to fund education.
"Without it, next year looks even worse," Cherf said. "We'll make it through this year. It's looking pretty good."
Board President Adam Cox said he is very pleased the district was able to bring back most if not all teachers laid off last year.
Parga Duran said the board will hold one public forum in September and two in October to study future budget options. Spicer said the times and places for these meetings have yet to be determined.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.