Sylvan Union School District passed its 2010-11 budget with little discussion, but a few ominous words from the man who shepherded it through.
"We're still not at our big year, the year where we fall off the cliff," Superintendent John Halverson said at Tuesday night's board meeting, citing stimulus funds, flexibility in categorical funding and other cushions that cannot be counted on for 2011-12 or 2012-13. At that point, he said, the district will have to look at cutting millions more, "which will be positions or the way we pay folks. That's all we'll have left."
He added many other districts will be facing the same few choices as California struggles to make ends meet.
"We are not alone, I can tell you that," Halverson said. "And we don't have a real (state) budget yet. It could be August, September — who knows? It could be November before we have a real budget."
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The $55.5 million budget passed leaves a bare 3 percent reserve. It includes furlough days for all personnel, five fewer days of instruction plus two additional days. There are 23 teachers being laid off, according to John Zambo, lead negotiator for the Sylvan Educators Association.
Classified workers waiting for news
Classified employees find out tomorrow if they will have jobs, said one meeting attendee who did not give his name. From a list of hours cut it appears roughly 18 workers will not be coming back.
Halverson's contract was renewed through 2012 at the meeting, with a 9 percent salary cut he suggested himself, according to trustee George Rawe. Rawe was on the superintendent's evaluation committee, which made the "satisfactory" recommendation required to renew the contract at the lower $167,443 annual salary.
"He did a lot better than satisfactory. He did an extraordinary job in leading this district through difficult times," Rawe said.
Board members voted unanimously to trim their own pay by 9 percent, a cut worth $313.20 each for the year, a $1,566 total savings.
Looking ahead, administrators Russ Antracoli and John Patten spoke at the meeting about a committee formed in June to look into educational alternatives for the district. The 23-member committee, which includes teachers, parents and community members, started out looking at charter school possibilities, Patten said, but now is expanding its focus.
"We want to look at a professional education community," Antracoli said.
A magnet school, independent study school, charter high school or even a boarding school were all concepts not yet considered, but tossed "on the table" for the committee.
Bee staff writer Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.