DENAIR — Denair Unified is "very close" to having made the cuts it needs to pull back from the brink of insolvency and avoid a state takeover, Superintendent Ed Parraz said Wednesday.
Last week's unanimous votes by the Denair board to reduce 2013-14 hours for 14 high school teachers and 21 support staff brought the district that much closer to the $1.4 million goal.
Some of the layoffs, however, were precautionary and could be rescinded, Parraz said. "We have not finished negotiations with either bargaining unit, and we are in 'impasse' with the teachers," he said.
"We are at the point of concessions vs. layoffs. The more concessions, the less layoffs. Projections still show declining enrollment for next year, so precaution is necessary to staff accordingly, especially at the high school," Parraz said.
Teachers must be given notice by March 15 if it's possible their jobs will cut for the next school year. School support staff, such as sec- retaries, custodians and bus drivers, must be given 60 days' notice.
Denair's tenuous financial situation, made public in October, came after years of avoiding layoffs despite state budget cuts and sharply declining enrollment.
Support staff, represented by the California School Employees Association, has taken cuts in the past, but this year turned down concessions, said CSEA Labor Relations Representative Kyle Harvey.
"Our membership rejected a tentative agreement that would have guaranteed no layoffs for the rest of 2012-2013," Harvey said. The agreement would have been for four furlough days, a 3.5 percent salary reduction.
The Denair Unified Teachers Association also has balked at taking the 3.5 percent cut imposed on district management, but DUTA President Barry Cole said he was surprised the district declared impasse.
"At the board meeting, I asked the board to send their negotiating team back to the table. I thought we were making progress," he said.
Cole said teachers gave up 3.4 percent in salary by cutting six days of school and training this school year.
"Teachers have already taken nearly double the concessions that the district claims it currently requires, and this is not including additional cuts to extra-duty and athletic stipends that are currently in place," he said.
Cole said Denair gets basically the same per-child funding as other districts, but it's still cutting, while across the county he sees districts restoring school days and salaries. It comes down to responsible stewardship, he said.
The association's position is the district should eliminate or consolidate administrative positions and cut money-losing programs to make ends meet, Cole said.