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No plan yet for saving DUSD from financial ruin

POSTED November 9, 2012 10:11 p.m.

Over a hundred concerned residents filled the Denair Unified School District's board room on Thursday night with hopes of getting information on the district's plan to balance the budget, only to find out that no action has been put forth by administration or trustees.

DUSD has been unable to meet its financial obligations, which has resulted in continued deficit spending and illegally low reserve levels. This precarious financial situation the school district is in was brought  to light by the Stanislaus County Office of Education at a special meeting last week.

“The 2012-13 budget was built based on the assumption that Prop 30 would pass,” said DUSD Superintendent Edward Parraz.  “Although the proposition has passed, we still won’t have enough funds for our budget.”

Although Proposition 30 alleviates a portion of the budget problem, the district will have to cut salaries or positions, or both.  The district’s ending fund balance does not satisfy the 3 percent reserve level required by law. Spending continues to shrink the fund balance, which in turn increases the reserve requirement.  In addition, the district still finds itself with a $300,000 shortfall.

“We are going to work on the budget next week and hopefully have a plan set in motion by Nov. 30,” said Parraz. 

At this point, concessions from employee unions will not be enough for DUSD.  The district will need to continue to make even more adjustments to pull the district out of its fiscal decline.  Reduction in salaries, layoffs, and furlough days will need to be explored and put into effect as soon as possible, according to SCOE financial officials.

The budget has been stringent at school sites and many teachers are finding their own means to raise money for classroom supplies.  Maria Olivas, a Spanish teacher at Denair High School, has been collecting recycled cans and bottles during football games in order to raise money for supplies in her classroom.

“It’s been very tough for our classrooms,” said Olivas.  “I’ve been collecting cans and also selling tamales to raise $400 for a mounting on my projector.  So far I have totaled an amount of $168.  I still have a ways to go.”

Olivas' struggle with raising funds was brought to the DUSD board's attention Thursday night by a community member.

“It’s ridiculous that teachers have to go as low as collecting cans after a football game to raise money for their classrooms,” said a Denair resident during the board meeting.  “The district has handled the budget situation poorly and inefficiently.  I came to the meeting hoping they had a plan in motion, but to my surprise nothing has been done.  They need to act now.”

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