In order to rescind $130,000 in cuts to jobs and programs, Bear Valley Unified School District staff, including teachers and management, agreed to a 1% cut in the 2009/2010 school year. Within the Lucerne Valley Unified School District, which employs many teachers from the Big Bear Valley, the financial picture is considerably more bleak—or, as Superintendent Michael Noga explains to KBHR, “Last Thursday it was confirmed that an additional $600,000 would have to be cut, so basically we have to come up with $817,001 in reductions to our funding stream.” Lucerne Valley Unified’s School Board called a special meeting last Thursday evening, which certificated staff members attended just after Lucerne Valley High School completed commencement exercises for the 60 students of the Class of 2009. During the school board meeting of June 11, it was decided that Lucerne Valley Unified’s certificated staff, which teaches 1,050 students at three schools (an elementary, a middle school and a high school) would receive preliminary layoff notices. On Friday morning, Superintendent Noga, who only joined the district six weeks ago (thus relieving interim superintendent Rudy Macioge, a former BVUSD superintendent), met with teachers. As he tells KBHR, “The school board voted on preliminary notices, not final notices, and those went to employees on Friday. Notices went out to 48 teachers and two administrators for a total of 50 letters. We have to do a cost benefit analysis, particularly since 85% of our budget is allocated to staff salaries and benefits. The whole intention of the governing board is to have a local school district under local control. In lieu of us being taken over by the state, we have a financial advisor who works for the state’s financial crisis management team, and she’s working with us.” The preliminary layoff notices to, effectively, all Lucerne Valley teachers means there will be no summer school; those who will continue working include the superintendent, the Director of Budget, three part-time employees, an administrative assistant and one clerical person at the LVUSD district office, as well as some grounds and maintenance personnel. Adds Noga, “This is a traumatic time that nobody would ever want to go through. There is a very strong board dedicated to the students, even though the staff doesn’t believe it right now; we can’t exist the way we are right now with those cuts.” When asked if some teachers will be given their jobs back, Noga says, “Yes, that’s a given. I fully expect that we will retain many of those teachers who received letters.” Lucerne Valley Unified has targeted June 19 to have their budget posted for public display and, by August 15 (per the state’s Ed’ Code), teachers will receive final notification if indeed they will not be asked to return for Lucerne Valley Unified’s 2009/2010 school year, which is scheduled to begin August 17.
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