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Parents Leave CUSD Budget Forum Informed, Disheartened

The community forum was sparsely attended Thursday night.

Some classrooms in are already filled to the brim, and Sonja Beck, president of the PTA at can’t imagine more.

“I’m already tripping over kids when I’m helping in the classroom.  [The students] are right up next to each other,” Beck said.

But after hearing a presentation on the , she acknowledged that increased class sizes are just one of the many ways the district is going to have to tighten its belt next year.

About a dozen parents and a few children attended . The event conflicted with open houses as at least four elementary schools.

Superintendent Joseph Farley began the session explaining the need to cut as much as $50 million for the next school year. While officials , the rest will have to come from concessions with the district’s four employee groups.

Negotiations are ongoing, and Farley described the mood as “very, very collaborative.”

“We have had a very good professional relationship with our associations this year, and I think they will ratify the concessions we are seeking.  They have significant power and authority through the negotiations.”

About 91 percent of the district’s budget is tied to personnel, Farley said.

“In a normal funding cycle and we haven’t been normal for a while, I would say you would be high if you had 85-87 percent personnel,” he said.

About $18 million in cuts can be restored, Farley said, if the voters pass for temporary sales tax hikes and on increased taxes on those making $250,000-plus.

The Orange County Department of Education is allowing the district to submit a budget that can react to what happens in November, Farley said. In other words, if the tax measure doesn’t pass, the district will lop off instructional days at the end of the school year and the employees will take furlough days.

“Until 4 years ago, there was never the word furlough in this district. The school day was sacred,” Farley said.

But if the district is going to need to take furlough days, then it makes more sense to have them altogether “in one lump sum” than scattered throughout the year, Farley said.

Other cost-saving measures include freezing automatic salary advancements, laying off some teachers to increase class sizes and pay cuts. However, , no employee cuts are contemplated if Brown’s tax initiative passes, and only the district wants to consider them if it doesn’t.

Farley walked the audience through the savings each kind of cut could save.

“They’re large numbers. It’s getting to the point where it’s getting frightening,” he said.

Basically, if the tax measures don’t pass, the district will be returning to the funding levels it received in 2003-04, said Clark Hampton, deputy superintendent of business services.

“It’s really disheartening to hear,” said Cindi Wolfert, who has children at and , both in Mission Viejo.” I have the same feeling listening to the radio today about the economy. It’s not getting better.”

The Board of Trustees will hear an update about the budget at its next meeting, 7 p.m. Monday at the district's headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

Yeparoo June 09, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Why Jerry Brown’s Bid to Fix California’s Budget Isn’t Working May 15, 2012 3:13 PM EDT California’s fiscal crisis is mushrooming, and Governor Moonbeam seems powerless to stop it. Joe Mathews on Brown’s call for ‘stoicism,’ and why it’s not working. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/15/why-jerry-brown-s-bid-to-fix-california-s-budget-isn-t-working.html
College Planner June 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
@ Randy...no I think he is more of a "If it's not broke...let's break it" kinda guy.
randy June 09, 2012 at 08:01 PM
LB, that's good anothr way to say, and probably we the public break his type.
Teacher June 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM
bbq, I would like to know who is saying "everything is for the children".
Frieda Wales June 10, 2012 at 09:06 PM
LeAnn, yes, in looking through wiki web pages on Singapore's educational system, they seem to have several different tracks. I wonder if they stop tracking "education" when the track becomes "vocational" or something along those lines? Not too relevant to our schools here in South OC though. The old Apples to Oranges.

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