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Level III budget cuts: It could cost $1 per day to ride school bus
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BUDGET MEETING: The Manteca Unified School District board will discuss budget cuts Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the district office, 2901 E. Louise Ave.

Manteca Unified’s seven trustees have a big incentive to embrace the Level II budget cuts being advanced to them at Tuesday’s board meeting in a bid to bridge a $14 million budget deficit for the next school year.
The incentive? It would mean minimal cherry picking of Level III cuts that have the potential of creating radioactive political fallout, imposing deep impacts on the classroom, costing a significant number of jobs, and triggering political Donnybrooks on the board.
The cuts range from eliminating class-size reduction to putting Lathrop High on ice.
Some are more than just simple cuts. That includes a proposal to charge $1 per day per students for home-to-school transportation to save $400,000. It would cost $180 per year for a student to ride the bus. There would be two bus driver jobs eliminated. A pass program would be required and — if the board opted to implement the option — be put in place by March 15.
The Level II cuts recommended as a package by the 100-member budget reduction committee that represents a cross-section of teachers, administrators and classified employees would — when added to cuts already in place — leave a $630,000 budget deficit hole to plug.
If the board drops any items off the Level II cuts, they would simply be increasing the dollar amount they have to cobble together from Level III recommended cuts in order to comply with state law that the district budget be balanced with a mandated reserve.
The committee’s list of Level III cuts that can be undertaken and will result in a savings and not violate state or federal law are as follows:
• A 6 percent across-the-board cut in salaries, benefits and supplies to save $7.6 million. The committee identified this as their option of the absolute last resort.
 • Eliminate prep periods at the high school level, which would reduce staffing by 60 teachers to save $3.9 million.
• Drop all transportation except as required by law to save $3 million. It would cost 35 bus driver jobs and five support staff including mechanics.
• Reduce or eliminate all electives at the high school level to save $2.9 million. Some of the savings would be lost, however, as teachers versed in core subjects would have to be hired.
• Reduce all work calendars of non-teaching staff by one month to save $2.6 million.
• Freeze step and column pay increases on salary schedules to save $2.3 million.
• Close the Lathrop High campus to save $1.4 million.
• Cut custodial by cleaning twice per week, cut school campus staffing that have more than three janitor positions and eliminate sub pay to eliminate 27 custodial positions and possibly save  $1.2 million. The state, however, could penalize the district if sanitation problems arise causing the schools to lose between $1.3 million and $2.6 million if things do not go right once the cuts are implemented.
• Eliminating campus supervisors to save $1,079,884. Teachers would have to supervise.
• Raise class sizes by one student in the fourth through 12 grades going from 34 to 35 students as a max. It would eliminate eight elementary teachers and six high school teachers to save $980,000.
• Eliminate all technology support aides to save $782,017.
• Reduce or eliminate stipends for teachers doing work outside the school day such as drama, choir, band, JROTC, athletics, and others to save $780,301.
• Combine Calla High with Manteca High and New Vision High with Weston Ranch High to save $677,000.
• Consolidate Calla, New Vision and Manteca Day School into one campus to save $665,000.
• Eliminate assistant principals at high schools to save $660,000.
• Close New Haven School to save $563,000, close Nile Garden School to save $510,000, close Veritas School to save $447,000, and close Joshua Cowell School to save $314,000. Due to the need to house students if such an option was taken the board would have to close Cowell or New Haven and/or either Veritas or Nile Garden.
• Eliminate class size reduction to reduce 116 teaching jobs in kindergarten through third grade to save $415,000. The teachers cost more — $8 million — but that money would not be the district’s to save, as that is what the state puts toward class-size reduction.
• Close French Camp School to save $419,000.
• Eliminate high school transportation to save $435,000. It would eliminate two bus drivers’ jobs and remove 23 bus drivers from benefit eligibility.
• Eliminate school resource officers and drug dogs to save $350,000.
• Eliminate the five high school teacher/librarian positions to save $314,000.
• Close Manteca Day School to save $311,000.
• Eliminate kindergarten class-size reduction to save $275,000 and cut 27 teachers.
• Eliminate or restructure career counselors to save $260,000.
• Close McParland Annex to save $242,000.
• Eliminate program specialists to save $225,000.
• Cut high school librarian assistants to save $183,600.
• Eliminate ninth grade class size reduction in freshmen English to save $160,000. It would cost four teaching jobs.
• Eliminate or restructure high school dean of athletics to save $178,400.
• Eliminate lead speech therapist and lead psychologist positions to save $160,000.
• Cut district contributions to MUST sports programs to save $150,000.
• Eliminate or reduce the information technology department to save $114,000.
• Eliminate freshmen sports to save $90,000.
• Reduce one of three adaptive physical education teachers to save $72,000.
• Eliminate one speech therapist to save $75,000.
• Restructure grounds and maintenance to save $60,867.
• Eliminate para-professional support for RSP teachers to save $30,000.
• Reduce, eliminate or contract grounds to save $11,770.
• Refine position in technology to save $10,002.
• Move to four-day work week in summer to save utilities for savings of  $2,788.
The school board meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at he district office, 2901 E. Louise Ave.