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Kids should come before cash reserves in Manteca

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POSTED September 10, 2009 2:10 a.m.
Our priorities should be kids, not hoarding cash. For many months, we have heard from Manteca Unified District Superintendent Jason Messer that our district is a business.  

We need to keep the doors open, our superintendent keeps saying.  Do we have bean counters running our schools or educators?  Parents, do you want someone running our district that places a price on your child’s education?  Actually, school districts were never meant to be run as a business.  You’re supposed to spend the money that taxpayers give you to teach the children, and spend it wisely.  Not by saving it like we do with $12 million in the bank not budgeted for anything.  Not by spending $13 million on a brand new district office that was not needed.  Not by buying five properties for school sites that you don’t need.  Yes, we are in a fiscal crisis.  Yes, difficult choices will need to be made.  But, other school districts are dealing with the crisis and keeping the crisis out of the classroom.  Why not us?  One conclusion can be drawn from this and one conclusion only…fiscal mismanagement.  

Here is the kicker.  Are you ready?  You had better sit down.  The district is required to keep 3%, or $4.5 million, of their overall budget in reserve for emergencies.  Like now.  However, the state has lowered that reserve amount to 1%.  That would free up $3 million to do with as they please.  Not only that, the district has $12 million sitting around in an account.  This $12 million is not budgeted for anything.  It is just sitting there.  That means, they have $15 million available.  Not only that, Manteca Unified School District started the year with $3 million carry over from last year.  And we are facing a cash crunch?  Kids, not cash.  That should be our priority.  That should ALWAYS be our priority.

Did you know that most of the neighboring school districts are KEEPING class size reduction?  They include Lodi, Modesto City, Escalon, Lincoln, Tracy, Ripon, and Ceres.  All of those districts are using their reserves. We’re not.  Not only that, our district spent their $6 million of Obama stimulus funds for schools last year to make payroll.  This is unprecedented in this area.  All of our neighboring school districts in the counties of San Joaquin or Stanislaus are using that money for this year’s budget.

Do you believe that kids come before cash?  If so, I ask you to stand up for our schools.  What can you do?  Go to www.mantecateachers.com and click the link that says Stand Up for Schools.  You will be taken to a new page so we can organize everyone that wants to be involved in Standing up for Schools.
Sincerely,
Ken Johnson, President
Manteca Educators Association
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