February 26, 2009 in Washington Voices

CVSD considers more budget cuts

Month of meetings planned to identify district’s priorities
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Only a year after Central Valley made $1.5 million in painful cuts to its budget the district is making plans for another round of belt-tightening this spring.

The district’s board of directors voted Monday to move ahead with a month of community meetings and staff meetings to identify budget priorities for the 2009-10 school year. While the state hasn’t finalized its budget yet there will almost certainly be cuts in money set aside for education, said Superintendent Ben Small. “I just don’t perceive that we’ll stay whole,” he said.

The district is also ignoring, for the moment, money that may be coming as part of the federal stimulus bill. Districts don’t know how much money they will be getting and how its use might be restricted. “What we have to do is go ahead as if that is not coming to us,” he said.

District staff and members of the community will meet to identify and rank spending categories. After spending categories are identified, the district will investigate the impacts of proposed cuts. The district is looking at categories rather than specific programs, he said.

The district is starting the process now rather than waiting for all the budget numbers to come in because there are several firm deadlines that must be met. By-contract teachers and other staff must be notified of any layoffs by May 15 even though a final budget isn’t due until August. If the process is started now, the district will be ready to go when the budget numbers come in.

In other business, the board voted to change fees collected for child care and all-day kindergarten for the 2009-10 school year. Full-day child care for ages 3 to 5 will increase to $575 per month from $565. Full-day toddler child care will increase from $600 to $650 and full-day infant child care will rise from $675 to $750. The monthly fee for extended-day kindergarten will go up $10 per month.

Summer school prices will also increase this summer. The middle school fee will go up $10 per month and the cost for a high school class will go up $5.

The board also discussed proposed sports rules amendments that are being considered, agreeing to support some and not support others. Most proposed amendments that failed to get their support did so because of the expense. One rule would add girls lacrosse as a sport. “It’s hard to support adding sports where we are budget-wise,” said Small.

Board members shared that concern on the amendment that would add sixth-grade sports at middle schools. “The reason I oppose it is because of the financial impact at this time,” said board president Cindy McMullen.

Board member Tom Dingus said the district could accept the rule that would allow the sports but not implement it. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to,” he said.

Small said he thought the sixth-grade sports rule would come back if it doesn’t pass this year.

Nina Culver can be reached at 927-2158 or via e-mail at ninac@spokesman.com.

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