OAKDALE -- Unlike most school districts positioning themselves for anticipated state budget cuts, Oakdale Joint Unified does not plan to eliminate any positions.
Still, the district has to find $1.6 million to slice from its $31.7 million budget. Trustees are expected to decide how they will do that at a meeting Monday night.
Most of the preliminary plan involves ending a contract with the Stanislaus County Office of Education to provide programs to teach disabled students. Instead, Oakdale would provide services to its disabled students.
Also, the district would leave some vacancies unfilled and dip into its healthy reserves.
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Most other districts are distributing notices to their newest teachers, those with the least seniority, saying their jobs could be cut later this year. If districts don't notify teachers by Saturday that their jobs are in jeopardy, districts cannot lay off teachers later, according to the state education code. Though other districts say they hope no one will be laid off, they are sending out precautionary notices.
Oakdale Joint Unified officials are forgoing the trauma and banking on attrition. District staff is recommending to trustees that as people retire and leave, five positions be left unfilled next school year.
Most of the unfilled positions would be custodial.
Oakdale Teachers Association President Linda Kraus is waiting until after the Monday meeting to comment on the district's budget, but Mabel McNaught said she figures the suggested cuts are fair.
McNaught is California School Employee Association president, representing Oakdale Unified's custodians, office workers and other nonteaching district staff.
If it weren't for good planning, Oakdale might be facing job cuts, too, Superintendent Wendell Chun said.
"Our board was forward-thinking in requiring us to have a 5 percent reserve," he said. "You have to prepare for these things."
The state requires schools have a 3 percent reserve.
Among the major reasons Oakdale teachers are not facing job cuts is that they have not yet settled on a raise this year, Chun said.
Teachers got a 5 percent raise last year. Had they received something like that this year before getting word of Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut $4.8 billion from the state's education budget, some Oakdale Unified positions would be in jeopardy, too, Chun said.
For Chun, the situation is reminiscent of cuts made four years ago.
"We made $1 million in cuts and shifted a number of things we never replaced," he said. "It's not fun tearing apart things you've spent years building.
"This was supposed to be The Year of Education," Chun said, echoing Schwarzenegger's once-hopeful words.
Anger over Oakdale Joint Unified's budget primarily has been directed at Schwarzenegger's now seemingly empty declaration.
"We are here suffering huge cuts at his hands," Kraus said.
District trustees will consider staff's proposed budget cuts at a meeting Monday. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Oakdale City Council chambers, 277 N. Second St.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2382.