Modesto City Schools board members will hold onto their $750 monthly stipends, but agreed to halve their travel and conference budget as they grapple with making deep cuts to next year's budget.
Trustee Steve Grenbeaux asked his colleagues to consider trimming their monthly stipends from $750 to $700 per month as a "symbolic gesture." Although there was no vote on the suggestion, none of the board members said they would back a mandatory stipend cut. Trustee Kimberly Gerber Spina was absent from Monday night's meeting.
Grenbeaux said Tuesday he was slightly disappointed that board members did not agree on a stipend cut.
"The money is insignificant, but it lets people know the board is willing to take a shot," Grenbeaux said. "I thought that we needed to set an example, to show everybody that we were all in this together."
The board decided to cut its conference and travel funding next year, from $15,000 to $7,500, to mirror a 50 percent cut in travel that the board made districtwide in February. The board also voted to cut $11.8 million in positions and programs from its $300 million budget, in response to Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal in January to cut $4.8 billion in K-12 funding. The cuts included eliminating junior high librarians, reducing nurse positions, and eliminating the college-preparatory AVID program for low-income and minority students at five schools.
School board members in California are paid on a sliding scale based on student enrollment. Modesto's roughly 30,000 students make board members eligible to receive $750 per month. Modesto City Schools board members also can receive $258 monthly toward health insurance premiums.
Trustee Nancy Cline suggested that board members decide whether to reduce their own stipends on an individual basis.
"Certainly there are some people sitting up here who could very easily not be compensated at all, and it wouldn't be a problem," Cline said. "It may be a stipend for some; for me, it's food off my table."
Chief business official Debbe Bailey said district employees may be allowed to voluntarily give back part of their salary, including the 3.5 percent pay hike given to teachers, managers and classified staff this year, as a tax-deductible donation to the school district.
The board Monday night also unanimously approved a resolution opposing the governor's proposed 2008-09 state budget.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.