Time is running out and confusion reigns within communities served by the Eastern Sierra Unified School District (ESUSD). District staff would like to present a 2010/11 budget to the Board on June 1, but at a budget workshop meeting on Thursday, community members waited over two hours while the Board sat in closed session. The Board then spent just 2.5 hours in open session trying to figure out how to nail down budget scenarios.
Last month the ESUSD communities of Benton, Coleville, Lee Vining and Bridgeport were charged with picking community representatives to work with District staff to develop different budget scenarios to present to the Board. Communities were supposed to base their scenarios on priorities for their schools, and it was meant to be a chance for them to weigh in on how to make necessary cuts without laying off teachers.
It seems, however, that instructions were lost in translation, and the communities, except for Lee Vining, are scrambling to determine exactly what they are suppose to do and what information they need to do it. Lee Vining has managed to develop a budget scenario based on cuts furthest from the classroom.
“Lee Vining doesn’t know all the details, we’re just moving forward with community priorities,” said local Geoff McQuilkin.
The other communities felt that because they did not know exactly what the current budget scenario was they could not come up with a new one. They wanted more information on budget numbers, i.e. how much savings would be seen by cutting back in certain areas.
The Board, however, explained that it wanted the community to worry about scenarios first and then attach numbers later.
“Come up with scenarios that you can live with and then give them to Jessica [Denison, Financial Director] for cost estimates,” said Board member Doug Northington.
Staff also announced on Thursday that 21 classified, or administrative, positions would be receiving pink slips by the end of the day Friday, April 16.
Human Resources Director Mollie Nugent also explained that of the 17 pink slips handed out to teachers before March 15, one of them, the PE position was being disputed by the teacher’s union, or California Teacher’s Association. The CTA had stated that the position was required and the District would be violating law if they removed it. Nugent said that the pink slip for that position would be sent back to the Board to be rescinded. As of now the other 16 positions are still on the chopping block, but Nugent explained that the District hoped to be able to bring at least two of them back after the May 15 deadline.
As of April 14 numbers showed that expenditures need to be reduced by just under $2.6 million.
Next meeting: April 19 @ 5 p.m. in the Bridgeport District office.