Pink slip anxiety will hit all but a handful of top Modesto City Schools managers this spring, after the Board of Education voted to issue possible layoff warnings to nearly all its district office administrators.
The board voted unanimously in closed session to issue warnings to 41 administrators that their jobs are in danger for next year.
Just five contracted managers, including Superintendent Arturo Flores, chief business official Debbe Bailey and associate superintendents in charge of human resources, educational services, and administrative and pupil services, are safe from the budget knife this spring.
The state says school districts must give notice to employees by March 15 if their jobs are at risk to be cut. Final decisions on staffing cuts aren't made until May.
"It's not because we're planning on getting rid of everybody," Bailey said. "It's to keep options open between now and the end of the year."
The board approved a report showing the district can meet its financial obligations through the 2009-10 fiscal year.
In January, Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed cutting $4.8 billion from kindergarten through 12th grade education and suspending the state law guaranteeing minimum funding for public schools.
The board responded by slashing $11.6 million from its $300 million budget, including eliminating junior high librarians, reducing nurse positions and eliminating a college-preparatory program for low-income and minority students at one junior high and four high schools next year.
After budgeting for the cuts, the district will squeak by with only $30,000 in "wiggle room" for 2009-10, Bailey said. About $3 million of the nearly $12 million in cuts were made with one-time money.
"Despite the pain we've gone through, we still have some challenges looking forward," Bailey said. "There are more cuts we know we need to make. We're going to need more kids, more money or more cuts."
Board members bashed the governor's proposals and urged audience members to lobby their legislators against cuts to education. The most recent national ranking of per-pupil spending by state puts California 46th in the country.
Board member Gary Lopez said the Northern San Joaquin Valley's foreclosure crisis and plummeting home values mean area schools will continue to suffer declining student enrollment and lost property taxes.
"The storm is still to come," Lopez said.
A group of school nurses wearing black armbands with a red cross came to speak out against the Feb. 22 cuts, which included about three nurse positions and the district nurse chairman.
Nurses fear four of the five nurses working in the district's child development programs will be cut before a budget is passed in June.
School nurse Paula Kinch said having enough nurses on district campuses is essential to keep students safe during the school day.
"One of the things we do is we try to keep you from getting sued," said Kinch, a school nurse at Beyer High and Fremont Elementary schools.
There was no public comment period on the special meeting agenda, so the nurses' comments were cut short. Board members urged them to return for the regular board meeting March 31.
School nurse Marlys Layne left the boardroom with a line made famous in the movies by Schwarzenegger.
"As Arnold says, 'We'll be back,' " she said.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.