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March 8, 2011 > New Haven Unified School District Board report

New Haven Unified School District Board report

Submitted By Rick La Plante

The Board of Education on March 2 approved issuing layoff notices sufficient to keep the District solvent in a worst-case financial scenario - in the event Measure B is defeated and proposed state tax extensions either fail to reach the ballot or are defeated at the polls.

Due to the ongoing state budget crisis, the District is facing a shortfall of more than $10 million as it prepares for the 2011-12 school year. Measure B, a temporary funding measure to be considered by New Haven voters this spring, would raise approximately $3 million. Additionally, if the Legislature grants Gov. Brown's request to place the tax extensions on the June ballot - and if voters approve - the District would recover approximately $4 million.

In the interim, however, the Board must approve projections for 2011-12 that include the potential $10-plus million in cuts. "With 90 percent of the general fund budget tied up in salaries and benefits," Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Derek McNamara told the Board, "the only things left to cut are people and programs that support students."

When the first-interim budget was adopted in December, the Board was forced to make $4.9 million in reductions. The Board authorized increasing class sizes to 30-to-1 in kindergarten through third grade, reducing the counseling staff and media specialists and eliminating what remains of student transportation, except for special education.

Facing an additional $5.2 million shortfall before the second-interim budget is adopted March 15, the Board must plan for more cuts, including the elimination of the adult education program, reductions in site administration at the high schools and middle schools, closure of the print shop and reductions in maintenance and technology.

Those two rounds of reductions equate to the elimination of the following positions, as approved by the Board include:

55.6 full-time equivalents among the K-12 teaching staff;
27 FTEs from the classified staff;
Nine teachers and 31 temporary employees at the Adult School;
Temporary positions equal to 26.2 FTEs among K-12 employees.
Five counselors, a psychologist and a classified management position;
Three library media specialists.

In addition, the elimination of two administrative positions at the Adult School and four assistant/vice principal positions at the high schools and middle schools forced the District to notify 14 administrators of possible reassignment.

In addition to the layoffs, the state budget crisis has forced the Board to make several other cuts. In December, the Board authorized a reduction in the work year by three student days and two non-student days and the elimination of stipends for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. And on March 15, the Board is expected to be asked to further reduce the work year, by two additional student days and two additional non-student days.

But many of the proposed layoffs could be rescinded if Measure B is successful and/or the state tax extensions are passed, Mr. McNamara told the Board.

If Measure B passes, the cuts approved at the first interim would be mitigated as follows: K-3 classes would be 25-to-1; three student days would be restored to the work year; and extra-curricular and co-curricular stipends would be maintained.

Measure B, a $180 parcel tax, is the subject of a special vote-by-mail election this spring. Ballots will be mailed beginning April 4 and voters may cast their ballots through Election Day on May 3.

If both Measure B and the state tax extensions are passed, the District plans to restore two more student days and two non-student days, restore 50 percent of the adult education program and retain the high school and middle school positions.

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