The clock has started for the Denair Unified School District.
On Thursday night, members of the community, county officials, the teachers association and school board met to discuss last week's announcement of a possible state takeover of the district due to the rejection of the 2013-2014 district budget.
Fiscal adviser Teri Ryland warned the district that if it can’t pay back the $1.3 million it borrowed from the county, and find a way out of its current financial hole, then a state takeover would be imminent.
However, receiving a state bailout would come with its own set of problems, including $1.7 million in administrative costs, a lock in on a high interest 20 year loan, and the stigma associated with being a state run institution.
“You don't want to be in the group,” said Ryland. “It’s not been a positive process in any district.”
Currently, only nine schools in the state have received a state bailout including institutions in the cities of Compton, Richmond, Oakland, Natomas, King City and Inglewood. If Denair does not come up with the money to fill the gap in its budget by the time the legislation is signed, then the state would be forced to come in, relieving the board of all its decision making powers.
“There is no local control,” said Ryland. “It’s just slash and burn.”
Despite the worsening outlook of the district's financial woes, District Superintendent Walt Hanline stated that members of the district and community shouldn’t lose hope.
“I am hopeful,” said Hanline. “We can’t lose hope; we cannot go there.”
Hanline also added that the responsibility for the problem can’t be pinpointed on any one person, and that in order to solve the financial crisis, everyone one must play their part; including the Denair Teachers Association, the union representing the district’s teachers.
Currently, district officials and the DTA have not come up with a comprehensive deal regarding salary cuts.
DTA member John Stavrianoudakis echoed Hanline’s sentiment and stated the association wants to see an end to this problem as much as everyone else.
“I do not want to pit one group against another and I appreciate and respect every job that everybody in this district does,” said Stavrianoudakis. “However, we are being asked to take the biggest hit and we are already the lowest paid out of the groups.”
April Dunham-Filson, a parent who spoke at Tuesday night's meeting, was critical of the conflict between the DTA and the board, stating that the dispute is causing more and more students to leave the schools.
The district is down 61 students compared to last year, equating to a loss of $350,000 from federally received funds.
“We have to spend not one penny more, or one penny less,” said Hanline.
The next mediation session between the board and the DTA is scheduled for Oct. 21.