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TUSD approves $2.35 million in budget cuts
Teachers urge furlough days, instead of salary reductions
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Approved Budget Cuts and Savings

* Retain MAA funds: $1.9 million
* Reduce school site/district office applications by 10 percent: $130,000
* Reduce restricted maintenance contribution by 10 percent: $204,942
* Increase portion of assistant principal salaries paid by categorical funds: $100,000
* Eliminate GED testing: $25,000
Total reductions: $2,359,942

The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees approved $2.3 million in budget cuts at their Tuesday meeting, despite comments made about who should take the brunt of the cut backs.
“Students, families and parents need to partake in the cuts as well,” said Rob Aikman, a fifth grade teacher at Cunningham Elementary. “If we do furlough days, it will directly impact the public and they need to understand.”
Audience members applauded Aikman’s suggestion.  
“To suggest our families aren’t feeling it . . . they are feeling it,” said Frank Lima, TUSD Board president. “They might not be feeling it in the classroom, but they are feeling it in their communities.”   
After board discussion on the direction of where they would like to see the cuts, the majority of trustees seemed to be against increases in class size and furlough days. Most of them agreed that they would like to see more cooperation with the unions.
“It’s a shame that (teachers) won’t take a two percent cut, but (teachers) will let someone else take a 100 percent cut and lose their job,” said Bob Weaver, TUSD trustee.
Weaver’s opinion was echoed throughout the meeting from other trustees. The District and the unions that include the Turlock Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, the Turlock Classified American Federation of Teachers and unrepresented employees, have not come to an agreement as of Tuesday night.  
“As much as I hate asking employees to take some type of reduction in pay, I don’t feel like we really have any other alternative in meeting this deficit that we have,” said Tami Muniz, TUSD trustee. “I am hoping that everyone will come together so we can move on to what’s important and that is our students.”
Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman also suggested furlough days by cutting the school year short by five days.
“Every district in this county is asking their employees to take cuts, but they are asking them to have shorter school years up to five days,” Shipman said. “It is a lot better than asking employees to take a life time pay cut when we will see an end (to the budget crisis).”
The five approved cuts were selected from the priority one recommendation list made by the Budget Advisory Committee. The priority one list consists of $4.3 million in suggested budget cuts.
Budget cuts approved at Tuesday’s meeting include retaining Medi-Cal Administrative Assistance for $1.9 million, reducing school site and District Office department allocations by 10 percent totaling at $130,000, reducing restricted maintenance contribution by 10 percent totaling at $204,942, increasing a portion of assistant principal salaries paid by categorical funds totaling at $100,000 and eliminating GED testing for a savings of $25,000.
Other suggestions on the priority one list could not be placed on the agenda for approval by Tuesday’s meeting due to ongoing discussions with District unions.
The negotiable suggestions on the priority one list are freeze in step and column raises, reduction in salaries or benefits by a set percentage, and reducing or eliminating mileage stipends.
Board members expressed their hope in coming to an agreement with the unions as soon as possible. They also expressed a desire for the cuts to be made across the board.
“Taking percent cuts in salaries is the least bitter pill to swallow,” said Loren Holt, TUSD trustee.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.