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Denair schools struggle with 'dramatic' budget deficit

Teacher layoffs probable for 2013-14

POSTED December 7, 2012 11:19 p.m.

The Stanislaus County Office of Education has stepped in to help right the financial wrongs found in the Denair Unified School District, however, a plan of action has yet to be released.

A revised budget addressing  the "dramatic, structural budget deficit that requires immediate action" found in a report by a county fiscal expert still hasn't been determined, despite a three hour closed session meeting of the Denair Unified School Board Thursday night.

In a letter sent home Friday to Denair parents, Superintendent Ed Parraz addresses the financial problems concerning the district and the steps they need to take to solve them.  This year, the district is short about $350,000, equivalent to a 3.5 percent salary reduction from every employee.

“I acknowledge that our situation is not ideal," says Parraz in the letter. "I will work closely with our Board to preserve our local control for our schools.”

In October, the Stanislaus County Office of Education determined that the Denair Unified School District would not be able to meets its financial obligation for the current fiscal year. The county then employed a fiscal expert, Teresa Ryland, to review the district's budgetary situation.

Ryland found that  DUSD’s cash balances are close to permanently disappearing.  According to Ryland’s report, “the district has a dramatic, structural budget deficit that requires immediate action by the board and staff so that local control can be maintained.”

“At this point, the district has to make the right amount of cuts so they will be fiscally solvent for next year,” said SCOE Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Don Gatti.  “There is a high probability that they are going to lay off teachers next year.”

DUSD is in the process of preparing its financial report and fiscal recovery plan due Dec. 17.

“It’s going to take a while to get everyone on board,” said Gatti.  “There are a lot of concerned parents in fear of the district’s future.  I am optimistic that the district will come together and come up with a fixed budget that our students can benefit from.”

In his letter to district parents, Parraz promised to balance the budget to ensure accuracy and totality for its students and the rest of the schools.

“It is unfortunate that we are becoming experts in cutting education,” wrote Parraz.  “None of us got into this profession with any thought of someday having to dismantle a system to which we committed our life’s work. We must continue to fight to preserve our public schools in California and give our students a fair chance to survive in the future they face."

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