School-year reduction, campus closures eyed

By From page A1 | October 17, 2012

On Thursday night, the Davis school board once again will contemplate the potential financial abyss it could be plunged into if voters turn down two school finance measures at the polls on Nov. 6 — Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 and Measure E, a Davis parcel tax.

As the agenda summary notes, “If Proposition 30 fails, the Davis school district will need to immediately cut $3.7 million from its 2012-13 budget” — which equates to 67 full-time employees. “If Measure E does not pass, then the Davis school district will need to cut $3.2 million from its 2013-14 budget” — which equates to 57 full-time employees.

“Given the severity of these potential cuts, early fiscal planning is crucial,” the summary concludes ominously.

The school board began discussing the district’s financial scenario two weeks ago. Possible options outlined by Superintendent Winfred Roberson included a swift midyear transition to a shorter school year — something that would require an agreement with the Davis Teachers Association. Negotiations in that area are still ongoing.

The DTA has proposed a five-day work reduction, effectively reducing the school year by five days in June, if Prop. 30 fails. The school district, which wants a 10-day furlough commitment, has sought to have an impasse declared, which would result in a third-party mediator entering the negotiations.

Another possible option mentioned by Roberson on Oct. 4 is the closure of one or more schools. Closing an elementary school would result in annual ongoing savings of $300,000 to $400,000, according to district office estimates. Closing a junior high school would save about $500,000 to $600,000 annually. School closure also would involve redrawing school attendance boundaries for those schools that remain open, a complicated process that often is fraught with community concerns.

Another option raised by Roberson is a grade recofiguration, possibly involving a transition to schools serving grades K-8 and high schools serving grades 9-12. Davis currently has elementary schools for grades K-6, junior highs for grades 7-9 and high schools for grades 10-12.

It is not immediately clear how much money the district might save under this alternative.

Elsewhere on Thursday’s agenda, the school board is set to ratify a tentative agreement between the California School Employees Association, which represents custodians, food workers, secretaries, library technicians and related positions. The contingency agreement covers work and salary reductions in the event that Prop. 30 fails and the state immediately cuts $3.5 million in school funding.

The board also will disclose its opening proposal to the Davis Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association regarding negotiations for the 2013-14 budget year.

Thursday’s school board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. The meeting will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as streaming video on www.djusd.tv.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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