Jul 29, 2014
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Cutting Sports, Shorter School Year To Be Discussed

San Leandro Unified School District faces tough choices in preparing a contingency budget for the next school year.

Cutting Sports, Shorter School Year To Be Discussed

Cutting sports and shortening the school year will be among the ideas discussed at the school board meeting Tuesday night as officials of the San Leandro Unified School District prepare contingency budgets for the next two school years.

The district already expects to cut roughly 20 positions, some teachers, some counselors and the rest miscellaneous personnel.

But School Board President Morgan Mack-Rose said officials needs a contingency plan in case a voters shoot down a school finance initiative proposed by Governor Brown, which is why additional cuts must be considered.

Brown has proposed a half-cent increase in the state sales tax and an income tax increase on indivuals earning over $250,000 ($500,000 for couples).

Should voters fail to approve it, San Leandro Unified expects to see a $3.184 million mid-year cut in its 2012-2013 budget and a $9.73 million decrease in 2013-2014, according to a presentation on the district's home page (see Summary Powerpoint on the top right).

Mack-Rose said because the school year will be underway before the fate of Brown's proposal is known, the district must plan now to make up for the possible shortfall because some school programs can't be cut mid-year.

Nothing has been decided. A shorter school year, for instance, would also require agreement from the San Leandro Teacher's Association (SLTA).

SLTA President Jon Sherr, an economics teacher at San Leandro High School, said he has been monitoring the budget process and is ready to work with the district to make the best of a bad situation. But nothing definite is in the works.

Sherr said teachers have not had a pay raise since the 2007-2008 school year. The union, which is mostly but not all teachers, has seen its ranks shrink from 512 members in 2009 to about 462 at present, he said.

That roughly 10 percent reduction has been accomplished by a series of staggered increases in class size, from 20 students per teacher in 2008 heading to 32 per instructor next year.

So far at least, the reductions have occurred mainly through attrition as job-changers and retirees thinned the union's ranks.

How long that thinning can be continued, especially given possible large cuts ahead, is among the considerations facing district officials. About 90 percent of the district's expenses are for payroll and personell.

San Leandro Unified officials are considering and are in the process of polling a random sample of city voters about their willingness to pass how much of an increase.

A parcel tax to support the schools would need a two-thirds margin to pass. Neighboring communities mulling similar moves have seen .

All of this adds up to a set of moving puzzle piece as board members and district officials meet Tuesday night at City Hall to budget two years in advance.

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