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Other possible cuts: Science camp busing & ag stipends
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• MEETING TONIGHT: The Manteca Unified School District board will discuss budget cuts tonight at 7 p.m. at the district office, 2901 E. Louise Ave.

Science camp transportation —  a $34,760 expenditure — could be in jeopardy.

So may the after-school ag program that requires $100,000 in extra pay or stipends for the district’s ag teachers in addition to their regular teaching assignments.

The two proposed cuts are among those not addressed by the 100-member budget reduction committee that will also be presented to the school board during tonight’s 7 p.m. meeting at the district office, 2901 East Louise Ave.

The board needs to make $14 million in overall cuts to next year’s budget by mid-March. The committee has bundled a package of Level II proposed cuts that — if the board adopts as a whole — will leave the district $630,000 short of bridging the deficit.

The board could take additional cuts from the more controversial Level III that includes elementary school campus closures and cutting teaching jobs or select from a list of additional cuts.

Those are possible cuts that Acting Superintendent Jason Messer said were suggested after the 100-member committee had already sent budget cut proposals to examine to the seven sub-committees.    

Among the items on the list of other possible additional cuts are:

• Eliminate busing for alternative education programs such as continuation schools to save $100,000.

• Reduce stipends for walk on coaches. The amount of possible savings has yet to be determined.

• Have the internet technology department turn of all computers at night to save electricity. There is no cost savings number attached to the proposal.

• Reduce the health benefit caps for employees.

• Reduce the printing of parent/student handbook and send out only upon request to save $35,000.

• Charge full price for advanced placement exams.

Cuts the Manteca Unified board has already approved to date come in at $5.25 million.

That leaves $8.75 million in cuts to make. The Level II cuts recommended as a package by the 100-member committee would cover all but $630,000.

The board tonight may decide the fate of that package plus discuss other cuts that may bridge whatever gap remains.

The board doesn’t have to adopt the package of Level II cuts in their entirety. They can pick and choose to delete but at the end of it all they still have to come up with a total of $14 million in cuts.

So far the board has eliminated 14 vice principal positions for a savings of roughly $1.4 million.
They also have imposed a hiring freeze.

The district is also saving $100,000 by eliminating video recording of board meetings, slashing the Cultural Proficiency Committee budget by about $30,000, and reducing all general fund budgets at the district office by 20 percent.

Manteca Unified is laying off one of the nursing positions currently listed in the general fund while moving or financing that same position via grant funding. Lottery funding would be cut by about $100,000.

Trustees, under the original Level I plan, had already agreed to take a 50 percent cut to the lottery budget, reduce the site block grant by 20 percent, eliminate six district office administrative positions — three of those positions are currently vacant while three are additional posts — and reducing personnel staffing at the district office by transferring employees to vacant positions at the school sites.