RIVERBANK -- In anticipation of bearing some of the state's budget burden, Riverbank Unified School District has started positioning itself to make budget cuts in May.
District officials estimate they'll have to cut $1.4 million, or 5 percent, from the district's $28.2 million budget, Superintendent Joe Galindo said.
This week, school board members agreed to notify 12 teachers (11 full-time and one part-time) that their jobs may be cut. The district has 145 teachers and 2,800 students. But the district hopes to avoid layoffs through attrition.
"We don't want people to panic," Director of Human Resources Barbara Cortese said. "Administrators have been going to schools explaining what's going on. We want (teachers) to know we care about them. We don't want them to leave."
Like a handful of other districts, Riverbank is putting some of its newest teachers on notice now because if they find later they need to cut teachers, they will have to have notified those teachers by March 15, according to the state education code.
The teachers have yet to receive their notices, so no one knows who is facing termination, Cortese said. Cortese said potential layoffs would not be based on merit but seniority.
The position to be cut are eight elementary school teachers, a part-time elementary school teacher, a special education teacher, an English teacher and a physical education teacher.
Like schools statewide, Riverbank is seeing an enrollment decline. District officials choose positions based on which types of classes have the least students. Riverbank's enrollment has dropped by about 200 students over three years.
The district is looking at a variety of ways to cut spending to avoid laying off teachers.
"We hope, come May, we won't have to cut them anymore," Cortese said.
The district also is offering a retirement incentive.
"We're really optimistic we can handle it through attrition," she added.
While officials are looking at districtwide spending for ways to save money, Galindo said there are some things, such as state-mandated programs, they can't touch.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2382.