By Karen Billing
About 50 teachers attended the Del Mar Union School District board’s budget workshop on Dec. 19 to reinforce their value in the district as well as share their brainstorming ideas on how the district can save money as they face deficit spending of $4.5 million.
Employee salaries and benefits make up 85 percent of the budget and could be an area that sees some slices as the district prepares to make tough decisions next year.
Negotiations will be ongoing with the Del Mar Classified Teacher’s Association and the board will next hear an update on potential budget solutions on Jan. 23.
The district also plans to hold community budget meetings in January and February and Superintendent Holly McClurg plans to present her budget solution recommendations to the board at the Feb. 27 meeting.
“We did not predict to be in this type of situation,” said McClurg. “Unfortunately, because of the state of the budget in California and the basic aid contribution heavily impacting us, we find ourselves in a new reality that is different from what we experienced before.”
Due to the district’s fair share contribution, the district will get $2.5 million less in state categorical funding than it normally receives.
The Dec. 19 meeting was mainly about scheduling as Tim Asfazadour, assistant superintendent of human resource services, had to talk to the board about the process of layoffs. He said talk of layoffs is premature but there is certain groundwork in the highly regulated process that has to be laid in January and February in the event the cuts have to be made—certificated and classified employees must be notified of layoffs by March 15 and impacted certificated employees have formal layoff hearings in April before final notices must be sent on May 15.
“It’s really important to state up front that our employees are the strength of our organization,” said Asfazadour, noting how much time they spend trying to find the very best hires and spend so much time on professional development and training. “They’re a very valuable asset to us so it pains me to have this slide up here and explain the process we have to go through.”
“The district is about our people and we care and value our people very, very deeply,” McClurg said.
With salaries comprising 83 percent to 92 percent of school budgets, districts statewide have looked at options like furlough days, increasing class size, layoffs, salary rollbacks and deferral of major operating expenditures.
DMUSD has looked at the savings of furlough days. One day of furlough for the certificated and classified staff and management would save $176,900. Five furlough days would save $884,500.
Class size reduction, another possible solution, could save DMUSD $382,802 if it is increased by one student at a ratio of 21:1 in K-3 and 28:1 in grades 4-6; to increase by four students to a ratio of 24:1 in K-3 and 31:1 in 4-6, the net savings could be $1.2 million.
Other solutions include eliminating the over class size stipend ($142,000); continue the hiring freeze on assistant principals ($110,700); reorganize library services (saving $262,000); and reducing the maintenance and operations workforce ($55,000).