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Budget committee recommends cuts to schools days, salaries

POSTED February 15, 2011 8:54 p.m.

The Turlock Unified School District’s Budget Advisory Committee will recommend the TUSD Board of Trustees cut salaries and reduce the number of days in the school year.

Cuts would occur only if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax extensions are not passed by voters in June or the proposal fails to be approved by a two-thirds vote in the state legislature in order to even reach voters.

On Monday, committee members agreed on two proposals for the board, a salary reduction of up to 3 percent for all TUSD employees and a reduction in school days from 180 to 175. The salary reduction would save nearly $2.3 million and the reduction in school days would save TUSD $1.45 million.

The committee set a target goal of proposing $3 million in budget cuts, but TUSD is anticipating a loss of $4.3 million in revenue should the tax extension not pass. The remaining $1.3 million would be absorbed by reserve funds.

The BAC proposals will be presented to the Board of Trustees at the March 1 meeting for consideration. All BAC proposals will be due to the board by March 15 so the district can then submit its anticipated budget to the state.

“It is obviously easier to plan for reductions to and then restore or add back then it is to not plan at all,” said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer.

During negotiations committee members recommended various other cuts to consider for future BAC meetings. Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman recommended the district provide early retirement incentives. According to the TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto, the proposal “would help in the long run but not in the short term.”

Early retirement incentives would actually cost the district money and TUSD would not be able to replace the retired teachers, leading to an increase in class size.

“That would be preferable than laying off people,” said Shipman.

Other negotiations included the reduction of 12-month employees to 11-month employees and maintaining skeleton crews at the district office during summer months.

Even district cell phones were up for discussion, but according to Decker, the district is rebated on cell phone usage and potential cost savings would be non-existent.

At the next BAC meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 in the Turlock High library, numerous other budget cut proposals will be considered, including a water usage reduction and reductions or an elimination of funding for sports program transportation.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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