The Task of Slashing the School Budget Begins Tonight

The Capistrano Unified School District's Board of Trustees will consider starting the process to layoff 399 teachers, increase class sizes and cut salaries.

The process of cutting $50 million from the begins tonight, with six items designed as money-savers, including increasing classroom sizes for kindergarten-third grades and reopening negotiations with the unions.

In addition, the Board of Trustees will consider taking out another multimillion-dollar, short-term loan to keep the district solvent while it waits for money slated to be spent this year arrives next fiscal year.

The district anticipates – and that’s only if the in sales taxes and high-come wage earners.

Voters will go to the polls to decide that in November, but school districts must pass their 2012-13 budget by June 30. To budget for the worst-case scenario, Capo Unified must find $48 million in cuts from a budget that is already “over 90 percent personnel,” according to staff reports.

“Therefore, the district must continue to consider every option to ensure it develops and adopts a balanced budget by June 30,” the agenda reads.


The trustees will consider asking the state for a waiver so that the district may increase class sizes beyond what state law allows. The proposal is to add two more students to kindergarten classes, taking the numbers from 31- to 33 students, and one more student in first-third, from 30 to 31.

With class-size increases comes fewer teachers, and the trustees will consider a “precautionary” item to reduce the number of teachers by 399.

“With personnel costs now exceeding 90 percent of the district’s total budget, the district must consider all options available in an effort to provide maximum flexibility during the budget development process,” states the trustees’ agenda. “This includes preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

Last year, the . However, funding stayed flat this year, so the district did not make the changes.


The district is proposing to reopen negotiations with the teachers’ union, Capistrano Unified Education Association, the non-teaching employees union, California School Employees Association and the Teamsters.

“The district is submitting its proposal so that the 2012-13 negotiations can be addressed within the context of current district and state economic challenges,” the agenda items read.

The resolution the trustees will consider say the district wants to discuss the length of work year, salary reductions and benefit reductions.


The board will also consider taking out a new short-term loan, borrowing from the county $12.66 million, to be paid back in increments crossing fiscal years, by October at the latest, according to the agenda.

The county is offering the financing after it , saying the state would make them whole. Capistrano Unified bore the brunt of decision with nearly $19 million put on hold. 

The in a financial vehicle called Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes (or TRANs), which pools together many school districts to seek out more favorable terms, to cross fiscal years.

With the county’s offer, however, that loan was reduced to $12.5 million, said Marcus Walton, CUSD communications manager. So between the two loans, the district is borrowing about $25 million to cover shortfalls from this school year that the state will plug next school year.

The district’s TRAN was sold Feb. 23, Walton said.

The district already took out a $75-million TRAN loan this year, which will be paid back in full by May, school officials have said, leaving the district in a financial lurch by June if the trustees do not approve the short-term loans.

The board meets at 7 tonight at the district's headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

Pam Sunderman March 08, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I see no mention of a policy permitting the maligning of a group. Using the analogy (or simile) of crackhead to describe teachers is certainly offensive...so perhaps cusd mom could refrain from that one in the interests of civil discourse. And disclosing the salary of someone could certainly come under Violating her right of privacy (and yes I am well aware of the fact that teachers salaries are public record...although the method used by the OCR is far from accurate). What else will you allow people to post from their trips through google land. I am in full support of civil and respectful comments. I believe this forum has been hijacked by people who have no interest in the opinions of others...or even in listening to someone who disagrees with them.
Penny Arévalo March 08, 2012 at 06:42 PM
LeAna, I most certainly have not backed myself in the corner. We've already gone over this here and on the phone. Your comment came dangerously close to the line. Therefore, I did consult with CUSD mom, but I have the final say. The comments against Shelly don't even come close. Comments clearly over the line get deleted as soon as possible. JG, I've already discussed this as well. When in doubt, I fall back on my training in libel law. You cannot libel a group. There are no class-action defamation lawsuits. I police personal attacks. As editor, I am given some discretion, just as you probably had some discretion in how you ran your classroom (within certain parameters). Publicly discussing public employee salaries is fair game. I have no comment about the OC Register. Guys, I'm going to put on my "teacher" or "mom" voice and say, if you can't discuss the actual subject, then I'll have to close this thread down. We've beaten the comments-about-comments theme to death. At best, CUSD has cut $30 million. Discuss that, please.
Pam Sunderman March 08, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Penny, you posted the guidelines. And now you object to my comments on them. By all means take your ball and go home. It is my ultimate responsibility whether I subject myself to insults when I post here. But why have guidelines if you get to choose which ones you follow? Please note that only a few people are willing to subject themselves to the abuse they receive on your boards when the subject of CUSD comes up. Perhaps LeAna is right. Requiring people to post under their real names has certainly cut down on the vitriol at the OCR.
Pam Sunderman March 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
CUSD mom, teachers are well aware they cannot escape the cuts (both past and future). They are in those overcrowded classrooms every day and see how their ability to meet the needs of each student are getting harder and harder. They see the cuts to programs. They pay the same taxes as everyone else and the same high prices for gas and commodities. They do not exist in a vacuum and they hear and read every how they are considered to be privileged and greedy and entitled...simply because their paycheck comes from a public entity. They are willing to do their part and they have been doing so. It's really time to step back and look for solutions rather scapegoats
Penny Arévalo March 08, 2012 at 08:31 PM
JG, I don't believe I've taken issue with anything you've said here. Not sure where you got that. But, for the third time in this thread, offense is often in the eye of the beholder. I look at, according to Patch policy, content that "defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive." Offense is a sliding scale with a moving line. LeAna got too close to that line, which she readily admits. Capo mom did not in her November comments to Shelly. Because of the subjectivity of offense, I also look at for the defamatory, abusive, obscene and profane. Saying teachers are like (simile!) crackheads (or teachers are the crackheads of school finance -- analogy) is colorful language that may offend some, but is not defamatory, profane, obscene or abusive. I'm confident any court in the nation would back me up on that, especially given the context of political speech. JG, I hope you don't pick up your ball and go home. You're usually one of the few people who do stay on topic, and you are cordial. Because we have exhausted the rules here, at least I can refer people back to this thread when they have questions about why I allow some comments to remain and occasionally delete others.


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