Thursday, June 18, 2009

Carp Unified Board to mull another $175,000 in cuts


June 17, 2009 10:33 AM

The Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education is preparing to discuss significant budget cuts at its meeting Monday, according to a press release.

The cuts are based on an updated copy of the state budget.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a budget in February that cuts education funding as part of a means to close a $6 billion state budget gap.

CUSD cut $358,000 in March and expects to cut an additional $175,000 before the end of the fiscal year in accordance with this plan.

As the governor works with the state legislature on the upcoming budget, the Board expects to cut another $1.27 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

According to the district's assistant superintendent, Cindy Abbott, the legislature can do little to counter the slashed funding.

"Most of the legislature supports schools," she said, "but the budget gap is so great that whatever anyone can do is pretty limited."

The cuts made at CUSD will not differ significantly from those of other districts, according to Ms. Abbott.

"... the goal of the legislature is to make sure they're the same per student," she said.

According to its press release, the Board is working to diminish the impact that budget cuts will have on students.

It voted Monday to divert funds intended for maintenance to its general fund, and it warns that if the expected cuts occur next year, class sizes may increase from 20 to 25 for students in kindergarten through third grade.

The Board also voted to cancel summer school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, though older students will still be offered summer school to remain on track to graduate.

As members investigate other ways to limit the effect the cuts will have on students, some roadblocks exist.

"We are not going to be able to lay off any more teachers," said Ms. Abbott. "Other schools can do that."

CUSD cannot lay off more teachers because tenured teachers must be notified of such action by March 15.

There is an additional August layoff window when a budget is passed and the revenue limit has not increased by 2 percent.

According to Ms. Abbott, this window might be used by some districts this year, but "CUSD will not be able to take advantage of that option."

The district's superintendent, Paul Cordeiro said that finding ways to leave the students unaffected is very difficult.

"We are at a low point in education funding," he said. "I have never seen it this bad."

Members of CAUSE, the employee union in the District, agree with Mr. Cordeiro.

"... CUSD ... will be required to pay its fair share in this economic crisis," said Casey Roberts, a representative of the union who pledged that the union will work in collaboration with the Board and District Administration to find solutions.

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