RIVERBANK — Facing a March 15 deadline to update its budget or stop writing checks, the Riverbank Unified School District board chose the update with a 3-2 vote Saturday.
Board members Steve Walker and John Mitchell voted against adoption of a normally routine budget overview that's required to be sent to the state twice a year.
"They're spending all the money for your families and children and they don't care. You need to help the board stop spending," Walker told the audience in an outburst after the vote. He did not specify what he felt should be cut.
"This is an update on that budget so (employees) can get paid. That's it!" board President Egidio "Jeep" Oliveira responded.
Oliveira said the board failed to adopt the budget update with a 2-2 vote at its meeting Tuesday, which prompted the rare Saturday morning special session.
The update sent to the state shows the district digging deeper into reserves, using $1.7 million in 2012-13 to pay its bills. It still expects to end the school year with more than the required 5 percent of its $24 million budget in the bank.
The district needs to cut expenses, Superintendent Daryl Camp told high school students who came to Saturday's board meeting to protest planned teacher layoffs. He blamed much of Riverbank Unified's financial woes on declining enrollment.
Riverbank's six campuses have lost nearly a third of their enrollment since peaking in 2000-01. This year, there are about 2,750 students. About 440 of those are in the district's wait-listed dual-language charter school, Riverbank Language Academy, where six families camped overnight Thursday to ensure kindergarten placements for 2012-13.
High school senior Victoria Sandoval told the board she's talking to everyone she knows who skips school, telling them they need to help save teachers' jobs. Her favorite teacher was laid off last year, she said. "She was my second mom," she said. "They teach us more than the curriculum. They teach us about life."
For next year, Riverbank is warning 14 teachers they may be laid off and giving $20,000 retirement incentives to eight teachers leaving in June.
"That's 20 percent of us," said Riverbank Teachers Association President Jim Boling. The district and RTA continue to negotiate for 2013-14, with the next session set for Wednesday, he said.
In other matters, the board:
Did not move ahead with hiring an assistant superintendent
Voted 3-2, with Walker and Mitchell dissenting, to move to by-area elections and postponed November elections to 2014, saying it would take time to make the switch
Before the vote, Boling told the board the union did not oppose the switch to areas, "but I am vehemently against postponing the election."