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Find out more about budget cuts this week

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POSTED January 18, 2009 1:03 a.m.
If you want to find out more about the proposed $14 million in Manteca Unified School District budget cuts that are targeted to go into place July 1, you’ll have two opportunities this week.

Acting District Superintendent Jason Messer has scheduled two meetings for the public at the administrative center’s board room, 2901 E. Louise Ave. from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 22.

The proposed cuts are posted on the district’s website at www.mantecausd.net .

The board has adopted cuts that cover the entire $14 million.

They came from teachers, administrators and classified employees — 100 in all — who worked on the Superintendent’s Budget Reduction Committee.

The cuts were developed with the following five goals in mind:

• Budget cuts should be kept as far away from the classroom as possible.

• Layoffs should only be used as a last resort.

• The hiring freeze saves the district money, provides flexibility, and reduces the possibility of future layoffs.

• All potential budget cuts will be studied  to insure that the impact of any cut to all stakeholders is considered.

• This fiscal crisis is a state problem.  The school board supports increased flexibility in the allocation of state funds at the local level.

The cuts on the wesbite are in addition to $9.5 million in other cuts must be made this current fiscal year. Those proposed cuts include:

• Reducing employee contracts by two additional days and up to five days ($7 million). A proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls for instruction days for public schools to be reduced from 180 days to 175 days.

• Eliminating or reducing substitute teachers at the high schools ($250,000). Such a move could require secondary teachers foregoing their prep period and working as a substitute without further compensation.

• Conducting cleaning every other day ($1.25 million). Custodial positions could be reduced.

Doing away with the drug dogs ($35,000). The district has a contract to bring the drug-sniffing dogs when needed on campus.

• Raising class sized reduction by one in fourth- through 12th- grade classrooms without layoffs (about $750,000). The move could impact teachers, counselors and students not to mention the master schedules.

• Eliminating high school transportation ($425,000). At stake would be two bus operator jobs along with removing 23 positions from benefit eligibility and possibly ADA revenue particularly if students are unable to get to school.

• Slowly doing away with the 20-to-1 ratio class sized reduction for kindergarten- through third- grade students without layoffs ($415,000). Messer said that this would be absolutely the last resort since the move directly affects teachers and students.

• Eliminating class sized reduction for ninth-grade students without layoffs ($160,000). This move affects the least amount of teachers’ jobs and also has the most net savings on a per teacher basis on the class sized reduction options.

• Reducing the number of school psychologists ($320,000). Using special education teachers and support staff to cover in that role could cause compliance issues along legal problems.

• Reducing the amount spent on deferred maintenance (savings still to be determined).

• Eliminating lead speech therapist and lead psychologist ($150,000). Like the school psychologists, the move might cause compliance issues and legal problems, and complaints from parents.

• Reducing extra days for ag teachers ($50,000). Gone could be the weekend and summer programs for students.

• Cutting contributions to MUST sports ($150,000). The Manteca Unified School Trust would have to find other ways of raising funds.
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