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Summary of May 30 Budget Meeting

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  • David Whitenack
    On Friday afternoon, Portola parent Janet Abelson and I met with Jeff Cloutier, Executive Director of UTR, and Marty Kahn, Negotiations, Organizational and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2003
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      On Friday afternoon, Portola parent Janet Abelson and I met with Jeff
      Cloutier, Executive Director of UTR, and Marty Kahn, Negotiations,
      Organizational and Development Specialist with the California
      Teachers Association (CTA). We focused primarily on budgetary issues
      related to the current embroilment in the WCCUSD. My notes below are
      in no particular order of importance. (Sorry, no time to be more
      organized.) I take responsibility for any errors resulting from my
      faulty recording or inaccurate interpretation of what was shared at
      the meeting. Janet, Jeff and Marty, please make additions and
      corrections as needed.

      Following up on Jane Breyer's previous request, Jeff Cloutier
      distributed a sheet listing the contact information of four state
      legislators whom the CTA is targeting in attempts to get positive
      education-related movement on the state budget. They are Senators
      Jeff Denham (senator.denham@...) and Bruce McPherson
      (senator.mcpherson@...) and Assembly Members Guy Houston
      (assemblymember.houston@...) and Lois Wolk
      (assemblymember.wolk@...). (For addtional contact
      information, go to
      http://www.sen.ca.gov/~newsen/senators/senators.HTP and/or
      http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset7text.htm.) Please consider
      emailing these legislators urging them to support a budget that will
      continue to fund education at its current level.

      Marty Kahn distributed two documents. The first comes a May Revise
      Workshop held by School Services of California, Inc., which,
      according to Marty Kahn, is a private management consulting firm
      headed by Ken Hall, who was a finance manager under Ronald Reagan. In
      a workshop held on May 19 and 20, this group,--which is the same one
      that Board Member Karen Leong Fenton mentioned at the May 31
      Community Forum--presented suggestions regarding how to "staff based
      on 20:1 in each and every classroom." Their summary statement reads,
      "Before eliminating this popular program, look at it from all
      angles--especially the size of the state subsidy," which is 8.7:1.
      That is, that state contributes $8.70 for every dollar that a
      district spends to implement CSR.

      It does NOT appear, then, that School Services recommends that
      districts eliminate CSR.

      The second document that Marty shared was the CTE/NEA 203-2004 State
      Budget for Education outline based on the Governor Davis's May
      Revise. This six-page document notes, in part, that the base revenue
      limit (BRL) reduction for unified districts will be $58/ADA (average
      daily attendance). The document states that districts are required to
      "backfill" the BRL reduction through by doing one or more of the
      following: (1) Reduce required reserve for economic uncertainties by
      50%, (2) Use all restricted (categorical) reserves as of June 30,
      2003, and/or (3) Reduce routine maintenance reserve from 3.0% to
      2.0%. Additionally, the document highlights 32 other educational
      programs/issues related to the May Revise.

      We might want to research points 2 and 3 above and/or press board
      members to come up with dollar amounts related to each. The first
      point is a potential source of conflict. It seems that Fred Stewart
      and the majority of the board do not want to touch the reserve fund
      and, if it is to be tapped, they certainly haven't given any
      indication that they would aloow it to drop to 1%. On the other hand,
      if UTR leadership insists on drawing heavily on the reserves instead
      of or as a precursor to contractual concessions, we could be in for a
      long summer of deadlock.

      Jeff Cloutier and Marty Kahn also addressed several questions that we
      had compiled. Regarding how the $13M that has already been taken from
      the reserve fund this year has been spent, Kahn suggests comparintg
      the unaudited actuals (end-of-year report) from 01-02 with the second
      interim report (second-quarter report) from 02-03. Cloutier is going
      to get these documents for us.

      Regarding the possibility of garnering some of the developer fees
      from the district's various projects, according to Kahn, those fees
      can only be used towards expenses related to the building projects
      themselves.

      As to Fred Stewart's position on the current impasse, he wants UTR to
      give up the 2% raise and, additionally, make various other
      concessions.

      Regarding the budget calendar, as many of us heard at the May 31
      forum, the district must submit a 5-year balanced budget to Fred
      Stewart by the end of June. According to Kahn, once the state budget
      is passed, the district generally revises its budget within about 45
      days. So, even if a Draconian budget were to go forward at month's
      end, that wouldn't be the last word.

      At the end of our two-hour meeting I asked Jeff Cloutier the same
      question that Helen Bean asked Patricia Player at the end of the
      forum: What do you recommend that we do? Cloutier's responded that we
      should apply pressure to every component of the system: the board,
      the district administration, the union leadership, the state, Fred
      Stewart, Stewart's boss (Jack O'Connell, the State Superintendent of
      Public Instruction), and anywhere else that we can think of.

      Respectfully submitted,

      David Whitenack
      Parent, Madera Elementary
      El Cerrito
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