DENAIR — Denair parents and teachers sparred over salaries and sacrifices after hearing their schools still could be taken over by the state if spending does not go down.
The district has yet to settle with its teachers on salaries or layoffs, leaving Denair Unifieds financial sheets in the red and the steps toward state receivership marching forward.
Fiscal adviser Terri Ryland said Denair has fallen so deeply into a hole that the district is out of cash and cant pay back its $1.3million loan from the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
But getting a bailout loan from the state comes with about $1million in additional administrative costs, she said, further draining the districts $8 million annual budget.
The long-term impact of that to a community is devastating, Ryland said. Its not the same goals. Its just slash and burn and get the state its money back. Thats the priority.
The process begins with a meeting this Friday morning when state crisis management experts will meet with district financial experts. It would take six to eight months to have the state intervene.
Drastic times call for drastic action, said Denair Unified charter parent April Dunham-Filson, calling the teachers negotiating stand a game of chicken.
Parent Susanne Loetz said the protracted negotiations were prolonging an atmosphere of uncertainty that was causing families to leave the district.
Denairs latest enrollment is 61 students down from last years count, which was 81 students lower than the year before. It ended last year with 931 students.
Teachers with Denair Unified Teachers Association said other bargaining groups were brought up to a competitive salary before taking a salary cut. Teacher salaries are 11 percent below the county average and they are being asked to take cuts on top of that.
In 2011-12, the latest comparison available from the state, show the average teacher salary in Denair was $63,493. Teachers in four Stanislaus districts get less, with a range of about $50,000 a year in several one-school districts to $76,500 in Modesto City Schools.
DUTA President Barry Cole said he is confident a deal can be struck in time. He said his negotiating team will have a counterproposal prepared within the next few weeks.