Board approves budget reductions for WPUSD employees

By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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Last Friday, April 12, notices went out to the teaching community.

Some teachers’ pink slips were rescinded, while others learned they would lose their jobs by the end of this school year.

One instructor, Danielle Duarte, a Lincoln High School drama and English teacher, asked the Western Placer Unified School District’s Board of Directors Tuesday night “to do all you can” to save the program for her students.

Twelve of Duarte’s students attended Tuesday’s school board meeting and several spoke in support of Duarte, saying that she “turned” their lives around.

Duarte is scheduled to lose her job this July 1.

Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman said that the district “is doing everything we can” to rescind the lay-offs.

“It’s a sad situation when our fine teachers are receiving these slips. We’re doing everything we can to retain them,” Leaman said.

During negotiated concessions, Western Placer Unified School District and the California School Employees Association’s employees’ union have signed an understanding regarding furlough days, salary and other items for the 2013-14 school year, amounting to about $177,000 in savings.

This agreement, referred to as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), will both assist the school district with achieving its required budget reductions for the 2013-14 school year, and save school positions and programs.

As of the second interim report, the school district needed to cut a total of $220,000, according to Audrey Kilpatrick, Western Placer Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of business and operations.

Subtracting the $177,000 in savings, the school district still needs to cut $43,000, according to Kilpatrick.

 “Any type of budget cuts is extremely painful for district employees and we appreciate the concessions that our employees have made for next year,” Kilpatrick said.

According to a Western Placer Unified School District Board of Trustees’ fact sheet, the district and the California School Employees Association agreed to the following changes for fiscal year 2013-2014:

1. District employees from the California School Employees Association’s classified bargaining unit will take four unpaid non-work “furlough” days.

2. The 2013-2014 salary schedule will remain the same as the 2012-2013 schedule. The $177,000 savings is the combination of savings from the four furlough days for California School Employees Association classified employees and their agreement to freeze step salary increases for one fiscal year (a step salary increase refers to an automatic annual increase in their salary after each year of employment for a total of five years).

3. In consideration for the concessions, there will be no reduction in force/layoff notices to district California School Employees Association employees for the 2013-14 school year, except for any notices already issued and for categorically-funded positions based on program needs or reduction in funds (lack of work/lack of funds). Categorically-funded positions are restricted monies that are provided from the state for specific purposes. For example, special education funds could not be used to pay school utility bills.

4. There will be no salary/pay increases for 2013-14.

According to Kilpatrick, the 2013-14 budget cuts projected in July 2012 have been reduced from $6.5 million down to approximately $43,000. The reduction is the result of a) a combination of funding increases due to the passage of Proposition 30, in November 2012, b) the governor’s 2013-14 projected funding increases, c) board approval of non-union negotiable budget reductions, 4) employees’ salary concessions (furloughs and step-increase freeze), and 5) using $2 million of the district’s General Fund balance savings.

The district must find ways to cut another $43,000 from the 2013-14 budget and the budget must be adopted by the board of trustees by this June 30, according to Kilpatrick.

On other topics, there was no action taken on existing litigation between the Western Placer Unified School District and the city of Lincoln.

In other news, the board approved plans to hire one “teacher on special assignment.” A teacher on special assignment is a “peer” coach, who is instrumental in organizing workshops in literacy and mathematics to assist the district’s teachers in understanding the new common core state standards.

Both the administrative and teaching staff has been appreciate and positive about the effects of the peer coach program, said Mary Boyle, Western Placer Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of educational services.