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December 28, 2010 > New Haven School Board briefs

New Haven School Board briefs

Submitted By Rick La Plante

Facing another year of inadequate funding from the state, the Board of Education on December 14 approved the first interim budget for 2010-11, along with multi-year projections that include more cuts to programs and services in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The multi-year projections include furlough days, increased class sizes, the elimination of stipends and release periods for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, a reduction in the counseling staff and among media specialists, and the elimination of transportation for middle school students.

"Unless there is a significant change in the financial condition of the state," Chief Business Officer Akur Varadarajan told the Board, "the District will continue to be challenged with the daunting prospect of program diminishment, the likes of which have not been seen before by our District."

As approved - and pending negotiations with the associations representing District employees - the multi-year projections include five furlough days for employees starting in 2011-12. The result would be a shorter school year for students and a shorter work year and smaller paychecks for all staff.

In addition, class sizes would increase to 30-to-1 in kindergarten through third grade.

The District has weathered the initial storms by using one-time revenues, such as mitigation fees and federal stimulus funds, combined with cuts to programs and services. This year, for instance, class sizes were increased from 20-to-1 in first through third grades and in ninth grade, to 25-to-1. Transportation was eliminated for elementary school students and reduced for middle school students.

Now, per-pupil funding that should have been $6,358 has been reduced to $5,216, equating to a $14.2 million loss. Meanwhile, under-funding of mandated programs such as special education instruction and transportation and continuing education is costing the District $8.1 million from the general fund; in other words, from money that could be used to fund other programs.

Mr. Varadarajan told the Board that the District has instituted a freeze on non-essential expenditures. Vacant positions will not be filled, overtime will be eliminated for classified employees, and consultant services and staff development activities will be affected.

The Board will be presented with a second interim budget report and multi-year projections in March before adopting the 2010-11 budget and another set of multi-year projections in June.

Also, the Board:

Approved a new three-year contract with the New Haven Teachers Association, through June 2014. However, in light of the budget situation, the Association has agreed to return to the bargaining table if the District is unable to meet its required state reserve.

Delayed the re-opening of Barnard-White Middle School, until such time as financial projections allow for adequate resources to ensure success.

Approved polices requiring that members holding office as President or Clerk have completed or be actively enrolled I the Masters in Governance program offered by the California School Boards Association.

Recognized and thanked K-to-College, an East Bay non-profit that provided the District with 3,500 totes full of school supplies for disadvantaged students, and the New Haven Teachers Association, which partnered in the distribution by providing several hundred backpacks.

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