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WVSD expecting about $780,000 in cuts

Thu., June 9, 2011

The West Valley School District is expecting about $780,000 in cuts from the state budget this year. In order to make up for those cuts, it held the first of two public forums Tuesday to learn what programs are priorities for staff and parents.

Superintendent Polly Crowley said that some of the items suggested to be cut – such as salaries – are under contract and must be negotiated with the unions.

It isn’t the first time in recent years West Valley has had to make tough choices when considering programs to cut. Two years ago, the district made $1.2 million in budget cuts. Last year, a $350,000 cut from the state was met through making efficiencies.

“This year, we’re back to the bigger one,” she told the crowd of about 100 people, most of whom are staff members. District officials expect more parents to participate during the next meeting, Monday night.

Deputy Superintendent Doug Matson and Assistant Superintendent Gene Sementi passed out worksheets with a possible $1.65 million in program cuts. They asked the participants to prioritize which programs they are willing to see cut, but asked them for their totals to add up to about $750,000.

“There is not a person in this room that wants to make one of these cuts,” Sementi said. He noted that many of these programs had been developed over the years with the blood, sweat and tears of students and staff.

The golf program at the high school was on the list of possible cuts. Sementi said golf was chosen since it was the most disruptive to the education of students, since golf courses only offer time for the high school teams during the school week. Students miss class to participate.

“That’s a poor solution for doing something you don’t want to do,” Sementi said of the choice. Cutting golf would save $11,900.

Another option on the list was C squad sports teams. West Valley offers four levels of sports: varsity, junior varsity, freshman and C squad for sports such as boys and girls basketball and volleyball. Sementi recognized that many students on the C squad may not be at the competitive level of the other teams, but they still enjoyed it and the squad offers an opportunity to play. Eliminating the C squad would save $12,000. Also on the list were intramural sports, a savings of $10,000.

On the staffing side, Matson told the audience that the state is cutting 1.9 percent in its salary allocation for certificated employees and classified staff. It is also cutting 3 percent from its allocation to administrative salaries. If the district decides to cut these employees’ pay, it must be negotiated with the unions involved, since West Valley and the unions have a contract.

The alternative learning teaching staff could be cut by four full-time equivalent staffers, as well as its classified staff by four full-time equivalent employees. These employees represent $380,000.

Contract Based Education Principal Cleve Penberthy said reducing the teaching staff by four at CBE would be a 15 percent reduction of the staff.

“We’re trying to do the right thing for those kids,” he said of CBE. “That impact is huge.”

Penberthy acknowledged that everyone in the district wants to hold on to their own pieces but educating nontraditional students is more difficult than those in a traditional school.

Crowley said that no one has been laid off this year; however, around 20 first-year teachers with a one-year contract have not been asked to return for a second year. She said nine of them have been called back, after retirements,

None of these possible cuts have been made just yet. There will be another forum Monday and district officials will go through the work sheets to make a priority list. The budget won’t be approved by the school board until later this year.

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