OAKDALE -- Trustees cut Oakdale Joint Unified School District's budget by $1.6 million Monday night.
While the plan avoided layoffs, it didn't dodge teachers' disappointment.
District officials trimmed the budget by taking out some programs, such as giving elementary school principals five extra days of work beyond the school year so they have time to close shop for summer.
Some teacher and staff positions will not be filled as people retire or leave for other jobs.
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"While teachers aren't being laid off, teachers aren't being hired. So the teachers that are here will have to carry a larger load," Oakdale Teachers Association President Linda Kraus said.
Sandee Dillon fears she may be one of the teachers whose position the district will not fill. This is Dillon's last school year before a bittersweet retirement. She says she's happy to retire but doesn't want to leave her colleagues overloaded with students and work.
Dillon was one of the few teachers who spoke at the meeting, asking district officials whether they had included any of the teachers' suggestions on how to maneuver the budget cuts for the 2008-09 school year.
"There were seven pages of suggestions and they didn't use any," she said.
The board said they read the suggestions but decided to proceed with the budget-cutting plan presented by district staff.
The plan includes dipping into the district's healthy reserve. While the state demands districts keep a 3 percent reserve, the district has maintained a 5 percent one.
"You've insisted we keep it at 5 percent for times of economic uncertainty. I believe now is that time," Superintendent Wendell Chun said.
Dipped into its reserve
The district dipped into its reserve about six years ago, when it took 1 percent for the 2002-03 school year and another 1 percent the next year. By the third year, the district was in better economic health, Chun said.
The budget cuts are a response to Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut $4.8 billion from the state's education budget. It is unknown how much state legislators will cut, if they cut at all.
If things don't turn around for the state, the district could be facing more cuts. If so, district officials have outlined an additional $1.1 million in cuts, which include letting more positions go dark.
The cuts have come just as the Oakdale Teachers Association is approaching the topic of raises in its negotiations with the district for a three-year contract.
Kraus wouldn't comment on the negotiations because the president does not play an active role in them.
Teachers got a 5 percent raise last year. Chun has said late negotiations with labor groups mean the district has not given teachers a raise this year. Had teachers received a raise, the district would be facing deeper cuts.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2382.