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Flores: Sports, music intact in Modesto City Schools

Despite budget cuts and declining enrollment, Modesto City Schools doesn't plan to eliminate any of its athletic, music or foreign language programs or its specialized academic academies, Superintendent Arturo Flores assures.

"We're going to downsize a little bit, but we're going to keep our current programs as most kids know them," Flores said in an interview with The Modesto Bee on Friday.

That includes retaining all freshmen sport teams, which had been rumored to be on the chopping block.

The district must slice an estimated $25 million from next year's budget, but Flores said it doesn't plan to cut the extracurricular programs that are so important to students and their parents.

Instead, the schools are taking aim at employee salaries. In its opening contract proposals to employee unions this month, the district proposed 16 percent pay reductions, including seven unpaid furlough days.

The district calculates it can save $2 million for every 1 percent in pay reductions.

"I can't negotiate through the newspapers, but there's going to have to be some concessions made by employees," Flores said. "We're going to have to be looking at salaries."

Flores said he would agree to reduce his $217,344-per-year salary by the same percentage as other employees, but he declined to cut his pay first as an example for others.

"I would take whatever pay cut is necessary to help this budget," said Flores. He said that includes taking a 16 percent salary cut, as teachers have been asked to.

Besides his salary, Flores is paid a $7,800- per-year mileage stipend to cover work- related driving expenses.

Many of the district's other administrators also receive money to cover driving costs.

Some people consider those mileage stipends overly generous, which has caused controversy. Because of that, Flores will provide a clarification and historical report on the fairness of paying administrators such stipends.

That report is on Monday's school board agenda. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the district meeting room at 425 Locust St., Modesto.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or 578-2196.

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