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Budget may ax teachers’ raises

McAteer
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If guarded but dire predictions come true about mid-year state budget cuts, Nevada County teachers are going to need all those apples their students give them.

Eighty to 85 percent of schools’ budget goes to personnel, so next year teachers will likely not see any raises, Nevada County Board of Education members learned this week.

“Usually when people work hard, they expect to be rewarded financially,” said board member Marianne Slade-Troutman. “We have to thank people for sticking with us.”



That is, if they have a choice.

Mary Bergan, president of the California Federation of Teachers, wrote in a statement on the organization’s Web site that “In order to save the amount of money being discussed, the state would have to shut down our schools for two full weeks, reduce per-pupil spending by $300 or lay off more than 35,000 teachers.”




Instead of ending this year with a $1 billion reserve, the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office reports the state budget will end the 2002-03 fiscal year with a $6.1 billion deficit, and a $21 billion deficit by the end of the 2003-04 fiscal year.

Nevada County board of education member Bob Altieri explained it to two Nevada Union High School students at the board’s Wednesday meeting, “The Governor, before he was elected, said the budget was balanced. As soon as he was elected again, it went back to disaster.”

The Governor is expected to unveil his 2003-04 budget Jan. 10 and schools are bracing for a proposed $1.9 million hit.

That could mean a $4 million cut to Nevada County schools, said Terry McAteer, Nevada County superintendent of schools.

Schools’ budgets were cut $3.2 billion to help balance the state’s budget last year, Becky Zoglman, spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association, said.

“Any fat there is gone,” Zoglman said. “To add another $2 billion to that is just impossible for local school districts to do.”

The governor might propose cutting the education budget, but legislators might not support that and may look for another area to cut, and educators and their unions are working to see cuts made elsewhere, Zoglman said.

Maybe prisons will take more budget cuts or the gasoline tax will be raised, noted Thomas Romero, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Placer-Nevada Teachers Union.

“Who knows exactly whose sacred cow get slaughtered?” Romero said.

“It’s going to create havoc.”

There’s even talk that the class-size reduction effort might go, Romero said.

“I would imagine that resources are going to be skimpy, and it’s going to be difficult to get a salary increase,” Romero said.

Teachers in schools with declining enrollment are in more danger of layoffs than in districts like the one where Romero used to teach, Rocklin, where “they’re throwing up a school every week.”

Julie Hopkins, NJUHSD assistant superintendent of business, said the district receives $5,461.11 per student a year from the state department of education and local property taxes, but enrollment declined by 100 students this year, and school districts are paid according to how many students attend.

Joe Boeckx, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union School District, said teachers last year received a 1.25 percent raise but only added benefits this year in lieu of raises.

“We haven’t even discussed raises for fiscal year 03-04,” Boeckx said. “The situation does not look very good.”

Special education, an area which the county office of education oversees, is one area that won’t face cuts.

Already districts are asking their employees not to purchase any number two Ticonderoga pencils or other supplies they absolutely, positively don’t have to have.

Jon Byerrum, superintendent of the Grass Valley School District, said he was “waiting for the January 10 budget unveiling” to see how it will directly affect education.”

“In the meantime, Grass Valley has implemented a spending freeze on any non-essential expenditures,” he said

John Halverson, superintendent of Nevada City School District, said the Governor’s proposal for 2002-03 would impact his district by approximately $175,000, but said “it would be premature for me to even discuss what those would be at this time.”

Scott Lay, Clear Creek School District superintendent, said, “our budget is in decent shape,” but that they’d have to revise it in January and resume negotiations with teachers’ unions in February.

“Hopefully, it won’t be too ugly, “Lay said. It’s not just schools but every service in our state nailed this year.

Penn Valley’s Ready Springs School won’t see any cuts in programs they’ve been offering this year, and no one will be laid off, said Merrill Grant, the district’s superintendent. Spending will likely be frozen for this year, “but for (fiscal year 2003-04), it’s an entirely different scenario,” Grant said.

“No expenditure will go unscathed,” including staffing, programs and materials, Grant said.

“To cut the budget like this in the middle of the (fiscal) year is really monumental,” McAteer said. “It’s really unfair. It’s truly unfair.”


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