Layoffs for teachers in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District will be the hot topic at Wednesday night's school board meeting.
Last Thursday, in a special meeting held to discuss the administration's proposed $1.2 million budget cuts for the 2013-2014 academic year, board members insisted on increasing the cuts to $2 million, directing staff to return Wednesday night with new budget proposals and which certificated teaching positions will be eliminated.
State law requires layoff notices for the next school year be issued to certificated staff before March 15th, however, receiving a notice does not guarantee that employee will be laid off, said MBUSD Superintendent Michael Matthews, PhD.
Last Thursday, Matthews and Rick Bagley, deputy superintendent, administrative services, led the board through a budget with reduction scenarios spanning $1.2 to $1,926,239 million, depending on the level of cuts the board wanted to make. The presentation offered three levels, each level making deeper cuts.
"All level one reductions can be made through attrition, reassignment and/or releasing temporary contract personnel," said Matthews, adding that he also believed level two cuts could be made without layoffs.
In looking at the overall budget projections for the next three school years, board members voiced concerns with their previous directive at the Feb. 15 board meeting for the administration to present cuts totaling $1.5 million.
According to last Thursday's presentation, MBUSD would still have a budget deficit of $674,483 in 2015-2016 after projected budget adjustments of $1,250,000 in 2013-2014, $2,500,000 in 2014-2015 and $3,750,000 in 2015-2016. The board did not like this scenario and worried about leaving future board members such conditions to deal with.
MBUSD President Ida VanderPoorte said, "I worry about it's not really a million two we're really looking at [The proposed budget presented last Thursday, reduced the budget by $1,926,239 if all three levels of cuts were enacted]. I worry about whoever is sitting in this seat three years from now and they still don't have a balanced budget and they have no reserves [the budget projections presented also included using the district's reserves incrementally through 2015-2016, a pattern deemed not sustainable]."
The board and administrators agreed that certificated staff layoffs would be prioritized according to educational need.
In his presentation, Matthews said that budgets would be tightly monitored next year: No money in the general fund would be used for repairs and Fund 25 dollars, which are generated by fees assessed developers, would be allocated solely for maintenance projects, repairs and equipment replacement.
As an example of the tight budget monitoring, he noted that if there wasn't enough money in Fund 25 to paint the schools, the schools would not be painted. In the budget presented last week, at least $300,000 would be shifted to Fund 25.
To improve the district's finances, Bagley explained why the current "bottom line budgeting" process should be replaced by a "zero-based budget," and the benefits of implementing an operational position control system and studying overtime costs and patterns.
Some of the potential ideas for budget cuts included:
- creating combination grade classes
- changing the number of students per class
- eliminating zero period
- moving coaches out of their free periods
- cutting overtime
- figuring out the soft costs/underlying costs of the iPad program
"We probably shouldn't have added costs last year but we did," said VanderPoorte of the financial position the district is in. The iPad program was one of those additions.
"Next year is going to be painful," Penny Bordokas, board clerk, said when presented with the three levels of cuts. "We're barely scratching the surface. All we're doing is touching the surface at this point."
Bordokas insisted the board needed to make budget cuts now. "We've got to look at the future $5 million problem," she said of the presentation's budget projections.
She brought up examining the iPad program. "Can we afford it? It's like we don't want to talk about it. It's people's livelihoods at stake," she said, advocating cuts be made everywhere possible other than staff. "I just don't want to not talk about it.
"Let's look as hard as we can at everything before it's a pink slip for somebody," she said.
Said Bill Fournell, board member, "It's a good decision to go deeper earlier." He added that the board did not want to get into the financial situation of five years ago.
MBUSD has not laid off staff in at least three years, despite handing out 50 pink slips in 2010 that were later rescinded.
"We're a very thin place," said Matthews. "Our classified staff is very thin."
Classified positions will be affected as well.
"If 80 percent of your dollars go to personnel, then that's where your damage is going to occur unfortunately," said Matthews of the deeper budget cuts the board requested.
The board meeting will be held Wednesday beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the MBUSD administration building, 325 South Peck Avenue.
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