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MDUSD Superintendent and Assistant Supt. answer budget questions

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 7:27 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board will look at some budget cuts and layoffs Tuesday that have raised questions in the community.

Here are a few questions I e-mailed to Superintendent Steven Lawrence and Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent for personel services, to get a better idea of what the board will be looking at:

SUPERINTENDENT STEVEN LAWRENCE

Q: Why are 33.55 music teachers proposed to be laid-off? I only see 14 music teachers listed in proposed cuts. How many music teachers are there in the district?

A: This is the proposed negotiated reduction in 1st-5th prep time. Currently, we offer 1st-5th teacher prep time by utilizing PE teachers, music teachers and librarians. If the Board approves this reduction we must notice teachers by March 15, 201

Q: Are you recommending any of the non-negotiated cuts?

A: Since last year we have recommended a cap on benefits, proration of benefits based on working seven hours a day, and furlough days.

Q: If the taxes make it onto the ballot and pass, how much would you have to cut? Would you be able to rescind all cuts?

A: If the Governor’s proposed tax extensions pass we must still budget a reduction of $18.38 per ADA as well as class size reduction. This would be a reduction of approximately $2 million and would allow us to rescind the majority of the cuts and layoff notices. Layoff notices based on enrollment reductions and teachers not returning from leaves of absence would not be rescinded.

Q: How are the union negotiations coming along?

A: We have reached a principal difference of opinion with our classified associations and will be proceeding to fact-finding. We are continuing to work diligently with our teacher’s union and are optimistic we can reach a mutually beneficial resolution.

Q: According to the budget, it looks like you really only need to cut $8.8 million from the 2011-12 budget to achieve the $350 per student loss. Are you going to shoot for that as a minimum?

A: In order to certify positive we must have a balanced budget through the 2012-13 school year not just the 2011-12. The goal of the 2nd Interim is to certify positive.

[END LAWRENCE Q & A]

JULIE BRAUN-MARTIN:

Q: Why are 33.55 music teachers proposed to be laid-off? I only see 14 music teachers listed in proposed cuts. How many music teachers are there in the district?

Q: How are the union negotiations coming along?

ANSWERS:

“Dear Ms. Harrington:

There will continue to be district support for the secondary instrumental and vocal music programs. However, there will be some music positions eliminated or reduced in scope due to declining student enrollment or the fact that the school purchased additional music teacher time out of categorical funds and those funds will not be available next year. We also have music teachers who were laid off in our district last year that have the right to return to a position in 2011-2012.

Finally, there will also be a review at the next board meeting of the possibility of eliminating the preparation teachers (music, library or PE) at the elementary level. For all these reasons it was necessary to list that music teachers may receive a March 15th notice.

If the Board determines that it does not wish to eliminate the elementary preparation program, then the personnel office will either reduce the numbers of letters which need to be sent out on March 15th or it will rescind notices by early April.

– Julie Braun Martin, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services”

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I also asked two union reps how negotiations were coming along. Here’s what they said in voicemail messages this afternoon:

MIKE LANGLEY, MDEA TEACHERS’ UNION:

“I think that if the state, if they pass the June election, that many of these draconian problems will not have to be instituted. It’s a shame that we have to fire people before we end up rehiring them.

As far as negotiations, I am guardedly optimisitc that our last offer — which is going to be briefed to the board I believe on Tuesday — may be able to help both sides come to a good conclusion. But I won’t know that ’til I get the board’s reaction. And of course I won’t get the board’s reaction ‘tll they get that in closed session.”

JUDY ARMSTRONG, LOCAL 1: PRESIDENT, CLASSIFIED, SECRETARIAL, TECHNICAL (CST)

Regarding proposed reductions to secretarial staff:

“I have over 54 people that it’s going to affect and it is really upsetting. I would really like to know how this district thinks they’re going to run when they cut, because there’s no way they’ll be able to run this district.

And it seems funny how they always cut classified, but they still gave those raises (to five employees) and they still have retirees on contract. So, they find money when they want it.”

[END JUDY ARMSTRONG COMMENTS]

Although Trustee Cheryl Hansen asked Braun-Martin for a list of retirees working in the district, it doesn’t appear in the agenda packet.

I have also heard from Holbrook Elementary teachers and parents who say they plan to ask the board to rescind its decision to close their school.

The complete list of potential cuts is at http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=3722&mtgId=325.

Do you agree with Lawrence’s goal to certify “positive,” by making deep cuts through 2013?

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