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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Candidates rate priorities if school funding ballot measures fail

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From page A1 | October 31, 2012 | Leave Comment

Alan Fernandes

This week, The Enterprise concludes a series of articles contrasting the views of the five candidates for the Davis Board of Education — incumbent Susan Lovenburg and challengers Alan Fernandes, Jose Granda, Nancy Peterson and Claire Sherman. The top two vote-getters will be sworn in as trustees in December.

This week’s question: If the worst-case scenario occurs — i.e., Props. 30 and 38 fail to get a majority and Measure E comes up short of two-thirds — how will you respond as a newly sworn-in trustee? Discuss employee concessions, layoffs and school closure possibilities.

Peterson: “This equates to an immediate $3.7 million decrease for 2012-13. We have limited options for reductions since the school year is well under way. Administrators and classified staff have contingency plans in place that include salary reductions and furlough days. Certificated staff, through DTA, have not reached a contingency agreement with the district. Salary reductions and furloughs are being considered.

“Hopefully, a solution can be reached that minimizes the number of days lost while accomplishing the needed expenditure reduction. While it’s likely to include furlough days, we need to find solutions that mitigate the loss of educational time and program quality. My goal would be to minimize the impact on academic achievement and professional satisfaction.

“The same guiding principles will apply for 2013-14, with an additional loss of $3.2 million. Sadly, everything will be on the table, including school closures. That’s why I support increased funding to public education and long-term strategic planning.”

Sherman: “Under the worst-case scenario, the DJUSD cash reserves will be depleted, leading to a budget deficit greater than $8 million for the 2013-14 school year. There is no doubt employee layoffs and concessions, program cuts and a school closure will occur. However, DJUSD cannot keep cutting back and still provide top-quality education. We must do things differently, which means better and less expensively, not just less of the same.

“Various strategies have been outlined by Nathan Levenson in his book, ‘Smarter Budgets, Smarter Schools: How to Survive and Thrive in Tight Times.’ For example, spending should be guided by return on investment —- determine how much students learn, how many students are being served, and the costs associated with the effort.

“While this seems cold and corporate, all money spent should lead to positive outcomes and spending $500 to help a student is better than $1,000 for similar gains.”

Fernandes: “An immediate fiscal crisis will occur if all education funding ballot measures fail — specifically, a negative cash balance for the 2012-13 budget and a budget deficit of over $8 million for the 2013-14 budget.

“During an immediate fiscal crisis, every option must be considered. Addressing the cash balance must be the first priority to prevent insolvency and enable the district to pay its employees. In addition, working with our district employees to implement the state’s authorization to reduce the current school year is, unfortunately, an immediate solution that must also be explored while longer-term solutions such as school closures, district office administrative reorganization, school restructuring and asset management measures (which includes surplus property) are considered.

“Importantly, even if all education ballot measures pass, the district must do a much better job of planning for our fiscal future and aligning our resources with the services we are able to provide.”

Granda:  “This question assumes that we are in the presence of a financial tsunami. Not the case. The $70.3 million district revenue is a white elephant already. If Proposition 30 fails, they still have approximately $67 million. No tsunami. Failure of Measure E is not any loss at all. Voters committed themselves only to a two-year ‘emergency.’ It was never part of the district’s ongoing budget.

“According to the Department of Education, the entire teachers payroll for 2011 was $28.1 million. What is the district doing with the other $42.2 million? Benefits, administrators? Why four superintendents making together $654,833, the equivalent of 19 teachers?

“A 10 to 15 percent reduction for administrators and a 5 percent reduction for everyone else means no one has to lose their jobs or affect the kids’ education. I favor this. School closures, layoffs and reduced school days are tactics to coerce voters to pass the measure. Vote no on E.”

Lovenburg: “First and most importantly, I will vote yes on Propositions 30 and 38 and on Measure E. If all are approved on Nov. 6, Measure E simply renews the programs currently funded by Measure A. If Proposition 30 fails, Measure E also provides an additional component to protect Davis schools from reductions already identified in the current state budget. For more information, visit www.DistrictDollars.org.

“In the five years I have served on the school board, we have addressed loss of state funding through increasing efficiency and seeking new ways to deliver services, accepting community donations, parcel taxes approved by two-thirds of Davis voters and negotiating salary concessions.

“The board has begun a full review of programs, staff and facilities to determine the best use of precious resources should these measures fail. Everything will be on the table, including furlough days, salary reductions, program cuts and school consolidation.”

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