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Budget Balanced with Employee Concessions
Posted 6/27/12

Solutions to $51 Million Deficit Found Through Negotiations


            The Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees on Wednesday night approved a budget for the 2012-2013 school year that reduces spending by as much as $51 million, 75 percent of which will come directly from employee paychecks.

            The remaining portion of the general fund shortfall is being covered by layoffs, program changes, and utilizing a portion of funds earmarked for specific programs and services. Since the 2007-2008 school year, the District has cut approximately $150 million from its general fund budget.

            “Our employees and students have again sacrificed in order to cover the inadequate funding California’s schools receive,” Board President Dr. Gary Pritchard said. “This state is the eighth largest economy in the world, but ranks third from the bottom in per student funding in this country. To ask our students to accept fewer days in the classroom and our highly qualified teachers to take another pay cut is inexcusable. Thankfully, we have a community that works hand-in-hand with our teachers to ensure our students have an extraordinary educational experience. This Board and this administration have been empowered by this community to offer innovative and rigorous academic opportunities despite the fiscal challenges we face.”

            In 2007-2008, CUSD received $5,783 per student. If the Governor’s tax proposal fails, that number will drop to $4,770 per student, which is lower than the amount received in 2003-2004. In the upcoming school year, the District anticipates spending $331.2 million, down from $382.5 million in the current school year if the Governor's tax proposal does not pass.

            “Cuts of this magnitude will fundamentally change any organization, but especially one whose success relies so heavily on people,” Superintendent Joe Farley said. “We are lucky that we have a highly effective and dedicated group of teachers and a community that will not accept a substandard academic experience for its children. We will continue to find innovative ways to prepare our students for success in college or the workplace and keep our focus on classroom instruction.”

            The agreements each outlined a definite plan for additional spending reductions if the Governor’s proposed tax initiative fails or if mid-year cuts are implemented. In this worst-case scenario, the District faced a $51 million budget hole.

            The key ingredient to solving this year’s budget deficit are the agreements with the employee unions that rely on a multi-pronged approach that includes salary reductions, furlough days, class size increases, and layoffs.

            The agreement with the Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA), which represents about 2,155 teachers and other certificated employees including counselors, nurses and psychologists, contains approximately $30.2 million in savings. These employees have agreed to a pay decrease of six percent, which includes a 1.2 percent salary reduction, three non-instructional furlough days and corresponding pay cut (1.62 percent), five instructional furlough days and corresponding pay cut (2.7 percent), and a delay in salary schedule advancement which equates to a .5 percent payroll savings for the District. In the worst-case scenario, CUEA members have agreed to reduce their salaries another 6.9 percent by taking an additional 10 instructional furlough days with corresponding salary reductions (5.4 percent) and an additional 1.5 percent pay cut.

            “No one likes the choices we are forced to make to ensure that our children receive a quality education,” CUEA President Vicki Soderberg said. “I am glad that we were able to find solutions to this predicament. We have an agreement in place that ensures the District meets its fiscal obligations for the next school year and continues to retain programs and activities that promote teaching and learning.”

              The District’s classified workers, about 1,298 people, who are represented by the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Chapter 224, will soon vote on the pact Trustees approved on Wednesday night. That agreement results in $7.9 million in savings from CSEA employees taking eight furlough days (five instructional, three non-instructional) and the corresponding salary decrease, and postponing any automatic salary increases until July 1, 2013. In the worst-case scenario, CSEA members could face an additional 10 instructional furlough days with corresponding pay cuts of about 5 percent and a 1.6 percent salary reduction.

             “There are no good choices in this situation,” CSEA Chapter 224 president Ronda Walen said. “Everyone loses when you have to cut so much out of an organization, but we will continue to work hard to ensure that this District and its students remain among the best in the state and the nation.”

            Some 108 transportation workers, represented by Teamsters Local 952, agreed to $540,000 in concessions. Teamsters will take five furlough days in 2012-2013. If the tax proposal fails, transportation workers will freeze scheduled raises for half a year and take an additional nine instructional furlough days.

            Terms for unrepresented management employees—principals, District administrators, and classified managers—are expected to be announced in July.

            The CUEA agreement includes a 1.5 student increase in class size ratios for the 2012-2013 school year, which will save the District $6.3 million. In addition, previously negotiated limits will help reduce the amount the District will spend on health benefits by 6.6 percent.

            The agreements include from five to 15 instructional furlough days, which could reduce the number of school days to 165, down from 180. Under proposed state law, school districts can reduce the number of instructional days to 160.

            Copies of the approved budget and each employment agreement can be found on the District website,, under the June 27, 2012, Board Agenda.