DENAIR -- Denair Unified School District trustees will take up more teacher layoffs tonight and consider switching their popular charter Denair Academic Avenues into a magnet school as they work to get finances back in the black and avoid a state takeover.
The board first will meet in closed session to confer with union negotiators representing support staff and teachers, who are being asked to take a salary cut. Also scheduled for the closed-door meeting is the superintendent's evaluation, the third such review noted in as many meetings. No action on Ed Parraz's performance was reported after the Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 sessions.
Trustees made significant cuts in December and are poised to make more tonight, including additional teacher layoffs. The board will vote on whether to eliminate two full-time teaching slots and a part-time position to teach English learners. Those would be in addition to teacher layoffs in physical education, drama and math, and a half-time kindergarten position approved in December. Total savings would be $376,414, according to the agenda report.
The board also will consider changing its arts-
enriched elementary charter school, nicknamed D2A, into a district magnet. D2A offers art, music and Spanish in every grade and a longer school day. It boasts active parental involvement and high test scores.
The change would save an estimated $15,000. However, the agenda report does not estimate potential losses in enrollment from outside the district. Some 50 children would need to get a transfer from their home districts to attend the district-based Denair school, a step not needed to attend a charter school.
Also up for a vote is a 3.5 percent pay cut effective Feb. 1 for Denair Charter Academy's 18 hourly teachers. Unlike district teachers, the hourly teachers do not get a vote in the matter, said Parraz.
The academy is an alternative and home-schooling program that was at risk of losing its charter because of low test scores. The board voted in December to change the charter into a district school, but that action could be reversed tonight.
A board agenda report suggests that some portion of the $238,000 savings from the charter closure might instead be recouped through a change in accounting procedures. December's vote to lay off all but three or four of the charter's hourly teachers for 2013-14 will stand, Parraz said, saving an estimated $466,000.
Based on that figure, the savings for the February through May hourly salary cut would be roughly $8,000. That, plus savings from the layoff of a maintenance supervisor, adds up to close to $43,000 cut from the 2012-13 budget.
But the district needs to shave about $350,000 from this school year's spending to make ends meet and $1 million from next year's, according to an outside fiscal expert hired to help Denair get back on track. Terry Ryland said the district could get financing, however, to make it through the year if its budget is back in the black by June 30, 2014. Without that guarantee, however, it could be compelled to accept a state takeover.
With management and board salary givebacks ($60,000) and a custodial supervisor layoff ($70,000) approved in December, the district would be closing in on the $1 million goal for next year, even without savings from closing the alternative charter school.
Still a wild card are ongoing teacher and support staff salary negotiations. Each 1 percent salary cut districtwide would save about $100,000.
Barry Cole, president of the Denair Unified Teachers Association, said the union has not agreed to any concessions for this year or next.
Support staff also have not signed off on a deal. Kyle Harvey, negotiator for the California School Employees Association's Denair chapter, has said the union will seek parity with other employees.
Denair's $10 million general fund budget for this school year relied on overly optimistic enrollment, revenue and carry-over projections. When the real numbers rolled in, overseers blew the whistle, saying the small district northeast of Turlock risked insolvency by year's end.
The Denair Unified School District board will meet at 7:30 p.m. today at the district board room, 3460 Lester Road.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339, and on Twitter, @NanAustin.