Budget cuts are coming to Bear Valley Unified School District, given a financial climate that deems a reduction in spending necessary for all schools within California, which currently ranks 46th in the country for financial investment in education (this per BVUSD’s Director of Business Services Walter Con, who also notes that pre-Proposition 13 in 1978, California ranked in the top five in education spending). Con presented the financial picture for the school district’s Trustees and the Budget Advisory Committee, which is chaired by new Superintendent Dr. Nancy Wright, and recommended that the district make cuts of $1.45 million through school year 2011/2012, in order to assure BVUSD of having a small but positive fund balance and, thereby, local control of the district at the end of the three-year financial picture. What is important to note is that though the district, going into Monday’s special Board meeting, was poised to make nearly $1.5 million in cuts, the district will also be spending down roughly $4.4 million in reserves through school year 2012.
Before the budget cut recommendations were discussed by Trustees Debra Sarkisian, Ken Turney, Beverly Grabe, Randy Putz and Paul Zamoyta, Dr. Wright acknowledged the commitment of the Budget Advisory Committee and said, “This evening is a culmination of many hours and certainly many difficult conversations.” As outlined in a budget review meeting on November 9, Wright noted that “input from all stakeholders was heard and considered in this process.” Still, cuts had to be made in order to keep the district financially solvent, so top considerations, per Wright, were the health and safety of students; to keep from negatively affecting ADA funding and; in her words, “offer a comprehensive program for every child every day.”
Thirty-year school board member Dr. Ken Turney suggested that BVUSD look into a second bond measure to fund the district, though Dr. Wright noted that the process takes about 18 months to two years, and would require a concerted effort to get the community on board—a process she has been involved in before, and would be willing to undertake here in the Big Bear Valley.
In the meantime, budget cuts—24 of which have been outlined by the BAC, to be implemented over three school years—are imminent. Summing up the thoughts of her fellow Board members, former teacher Bev Grabe noted, “I think that this is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been a part of, especially when it affects kids and affects jobs.” Prior to Board vote on the cuts, which was recommended by Con with the proviso that the School Board direct staff to look for alternatives in the interim, BVEA teachers union President Alan Caldwell told the Board he would support them in public outreach, though noting, “This impacts my members a great deal.” School Board President Sarkisian was moved by Caldwell’s support, and left the dais to shake his hand, saying, “It feels good to know that we are all working together. We are all feeling it, and it is a lot of pressure.”
Despite their visible reluctance, the Board voted 4-1 (with Turney the dissenting vote) to adopt the BAC’s budget cut recommendations. Those cuts, to be implemented over three years, include: the elimination of one high school counselor; a reduction in hours for the BBHS librarian; a $36,000 reduction in instructional materials; reductions in the conference and travel budgets, including $10,000 from the high school travel budget over two years; three management furlough days; and, in school year 2010/2011, the increase in class sizes for all grades which will effectively translate to the elimination of 14 teaching positions; and, in year three, the “realignment” or closure of a school site which, at this point, is still in the conceptual phase.
- BVUSD’s Board of Trustees Agrees Upon $130,000 in Budget Cuts for 2009/2010 School Year
- Staff Union Agreements Result in the Restoration of Positions and Programs for 2009/2010 School Year; BVUSD Names Knapik and Oymaian Employees of the Year
- BVUSD Poised to Make Another $100,000 in Cuts for Current School Year; Full-Day Budget Meetings Scheduled