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Denair Unified, teachers still at odds; District heads further into financial crisis

POSTED October 25, 2013 11:58 p.m.

The Denair Unified School District and the Denair Unified Teachers' Association agreed on one thing Wednesday night at the DUSD Board meeting: they disagree.

“We don’t agree on facts and we don’t agree on numbers,” said Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline.

DUSD is heading toward fact-finding, the next step in the collective bargaining process with the teachers' association; a decision precipitated by the union's rejection of the District’s 2013-2014 budget proposal in September.

The DUSD administration and the teachers' union need to find a solution soon, as the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team declared the district in a state of financial emergency at its quarterly board meeting on Sunday.

FCMAT is a statewide fiscal resource for school districts that reports to a board of directors comprised of one county superintendent and one district superintendent from each of the state's 11 service regions. A representative of the California Department of Education also is on the board.

DUSD has agreed to waive the formation of a budget committee and to continue with the collective bargaining settlement process. The district and the Stanislaus County Office of Education are in agreement that the only way to get the required level of budget reductions necessary to avoid financial ruin is through the collective bargaining process. The waiver will accelerate this process.

If after the two month fact-finding process FCMAT is not pleased, the organization will conduct a detailed and costly review of the district’s finances, which is a next step toward a state takeover process. The SCOE said it is not in a position to loan the District cash after June 30. The District will either have to be self sustainable or seek state intervention.

At Thursday's meeting, board president Robert Hodges requested that the Denair Unified Teachers' Association stand publicly by the District’s side throughout the negotiations process.

DUTA spokesperson Kelly Beard said that she would seek council with DUTA President Barry Cole, who was not present, and other teachers. Beard said that the association is glad to be taking steps to complete this process so that teachers can return their focus back to teaching.

Despite a glimmer of cooperation between the board and the DUTA, several teachers voiced concerns that the District was still spending money it did not have on DataWORKS Education Research to aid teachers’ transition to Common Core.

“We are not against professional development, we just want to make sure we are getting the most bang for our buck,” said Beard.  

Despite teachers’ urging the board to postpone the decision, the $48,000 DataWORKS contract was approved unanimously.

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