CERES -- School administrators and nonunion employees are taking an 8.5 percent pay cut in an effort to save jobs and preserve student programs.
The Ceres Unified School District board of trustees voted last week to adopt the pay cuts, which are expected to save $500,000. They signal the district's intent to ask its employee unions for a similar salary reduction as they begin labor negotiations this week.
The goal is to close a $5 million budget gap. The cut will apply to more than 100 employees not covered by the teachers and classified employee unions.
In the Jan. 21 vote, Ceres Unified trustees unanimously approved the action, stating they'd rather save jobs and keep the cuts from directly affecting students as much as possible.
"Kids deserve the same education as those before them," said trustee Mike Welsh, one of six trustees who read prepared remarks at last week's meeting. District officials were eager to spread word of administrators trying to set an example and be the first to take pay cuts. The district posted video of the board meeting on its Web site.
Salaries to be cut range from $39,087 to $189,821 a year. The administrative ranks cover the superintendent, associate superintendents, principals, assistant principals, office managers and others.
The lowest-paid position, a personnel technician, will earn $35,764, or $3,323 less than this year. The highest-paid position, superintendent, will earn $173,686, or $16,135 less than this year.
Board President Eric Ing-werson urged trustees to take the same cut in their monthly stipends.
Whether or not those actions will result in other Ceres Unified employees following suit remains to be seen.
Teachers association President Cheryl Brewer said she appreciates officials for their leadership, but added: "If they're going to ask us to take those kind of pay cuts, it doesn't mean it will be any easier to convince our membership."
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339. Read her education blog at thehive.modbee.com/ ExtraCredit.