Teacher's jobs safe next year

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln’s schools will not lose any teachers next school year due to budget cuts. That’s because the Western Placer Unified School District voted to approve budget reductions that will help save the district $1.9 million next year without eliminating jobs. Out of the 100-plus budget reduction recommendations made by the district’s budget committee, 22 recommendations were moved forward to be suggested budget cuts. According to previous News Messenger reports, the budget committee was formed last year to review budget-cut options and provide recommendations. The budget committee is comprised of school district staff, including classified employees and administrative staff. The school district offered a budget presentation April 28 to go over the proposed budget reductions with community members but no one showed up. “If they were not able to attend, at least we offered them an opportunity,” said Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman that night. “We want to make sure to meet the needs and deal with the things they (the public) have concerns over.” Suggested budget reductions varied, with cuts coming from multiple areas of the school district’s budget, including teachers, transportation and school sites. The News Messenger went over budget-cut reductions with Assistant Superintendent of Business Joyce Lopes, while waiting for the April 28 meeting to start. The only change to management staffing this year will be to replace retiring Bob Noyes, assistant superintendent of personnel services, with a director of human services that will save the district $35,000, according to Lopes. Class sizes will be “floated” and two new teacher positions will not be created, which Lopes said will save the district $160,000. “We’ll create class sizes to accommodate the reductions and retirees in teaching or classified staff may not be back-filled,” Lopes said. School transportation could also be affected by the new budget but the good news is that no drivers will lose their jobs. It is proposed that kindergarten through 12th-grade students will ride the same bus, instead of having separate busses for kindergarten through eighth grade and high schooler’s, according to Lopes. Only students outside of city limits will be bussed. Students living within city limits have other options to get to school, including walking, biking or riding city busses, according to Lopes, who said high schooler’s can walk up to two miles to school, middle school students up to one mile, and elementary school kids can walk up to three-quarters of a mile. This could end up saving the district $320,500, but will eliminate four bus routes, saving fuel, driver pay and bus maintenance. Although four routes will be eliminated by the proposed budget cut, those routes will be made up by the district providing special-education transportation in-house, according to Lopes, which would save the district $60,000. The school district currently uses Mid-Placer Transportation Agency to bus special-education students, according to Lopes. The district will also dip into reserves this year, with $300,000 from technology reserves and $100,000 from restricted fund reserves. In the new-school reserve, the district usually transfers $250,000 “in anticipation of bringing in a new elementary school,” according to Lopes. That transfer will not be made for the next two years. Other budget reductions proposed are providing summer school to credit-deficient juniors and seniors, running heating and air conditioning during instructional hours, and “implementing custodial team cleaning during the summer.” Using cleaning teams would mean custodial staff would clean one school at a time during the summer, according to Lopes, so the 10 other school sites will have utilities shut off to save money. Before voting to approve the proposed budget reductions, board members expressed their concerns with the possible changes to transportation. Board member Terry Gage was “concerned about eliminating city limit busses,” specifically when it comes to younger students going to school. “I’m worried about first graders getting to school every day,” Gage said. “Getting kids to school is a real concern to me.” The News Messenger talked to Deb Snook, a school district parent and Lincoln High School booster-club member, about the possible budget reductions. “My opinion on any reduction in schools is to not target one area. I believe that, if everyone cuts back a little, everyone is saved,” Snook said. She was also positive about no teacher and classified staff lay-offs. “If they can save the teachers, I think that’s important and the classified staff, to me, is just as important because everyone helps make sure the school runs,” Snook said.