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EUSD approves additional $1.7 million in district-wide cuts

By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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Eureka Union School District students may have a longer walk to the bus stop and a longer ride to school after the board approved an additional $1.7 million in district-wide cuts Friday. The additional cuts are in response to the most recent budget proposal from Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as preparatory, “conservative” cuts based on recommendations made by School Services of California, a business, financial and advocacy resource for schools in California. “We are having to respond to people having a tough time making decisions in Sacramento,” said Eureka Superintendent Tim McCarty of the series of unknown factors regarding the state budget. “In no other business would we be asked to make these kinds of decisions with so many unknowns.” Despite being held at 9:30 a.m., several parents, principals and teachers were in attendance to hear the board present further cuts to Eureka schools. Transportation cuts totaling $153,200 will mean eliminating three bus routes and modifying others. “This will change the level of service to students,” said Melody Glaspey, chief business officer. “Buses may not go into neighborhoods and it will mean longer routes to and from school for some students.” Longer bus routes may also change the bell schedules for some Eureka schools by about 15 minutes, Glaspey said. The cuts to transportation also include raising bus fees by 18 percent to $250 a year as well as raising field trip bus rental fees to outside agencies. Leslie Knutty, a classified employee with the Eureka Union transportation division spoke out against raising field trip fees and said that doing so would result in a greater loss of revenue for the district. “Outside agencies come to us because our fees are lower,” Knutty said. “You raise the cost and you’re losing out on a big percentage of revenue because they will go somewhere else.” McCarty prefaced the discussion on budget cuts by reminding staff that the district’s projected enrollment is expected to decrease from 3,532 to about 3,275 students and funding from the state is expected to decline by 20 percent for the 2010-2011 school year. Eureka parent Howard Hoffman stood before the board and said in the 11 years he’s been a parent of a Eureka student, the same arguments and budget issues arise year after year. “Every year I hear about how the Eureka district is underfunded from the state,” Hoffman said. “What I have never heard is a proactive stance against a state political system that is obviously broken. The chances of the state giving the district the money it needs are zero.” Hoffman requested the board consider options like furlough days and even an energy audit of the schools as ways of finding cost reductions. “Haven’t you ever heard that when you’re up to your you-know-what in alligators, you make a plan to drain the swamp?” Hoffman asked. The $1.7 million in cuts also include further reductions in staff by an estimated six teachers. Several parents and teachers brought up the district’s 12 percent reserve and asked whether those funds could be used to save teachers. Olympus Junior High teacher Kristie Shaw identified herself to the board as one of the teachers they would be eliminating should the additional reductions in staff be approved. She presented the board with a series of alternative cost saving measures compiled by the Olympus staff. Among her recommendations were eliminating staff development days in exchange for furlough days, eliminating assistant superintendent positions and other top administrative positions in the district and using the reserve to save teachers. “I know the district doesn’t like to go below the zoned 12 percent reserve that you call rainy day funds,” said Eureka Union Teacher Association President Pam Ori. “It’s now raining, this is the time to use it.” The district will hold a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the district office located at 5455 Eureka Road in Granite Bay to discuss the reserve and will make a decision regarding further cuts to teachers at that time. Additional cuts in the Eureka Union School District: - $9,000 will affect the district’s three nurses by reconfiguring hours or eliminating positions - $12,000 in teacher aides - $77,000 modifying Reading Lab hours or eliminating positions - 6 additional teachers possibly eliminated Megan Wood can be reached at meganw@goldcountrymedia.com