Loomis Union School District weathers economic storm

Area schools on solid fiscal ground
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The Loomis Union School District appears to be financially stable, despite state budget cuts to education of 20 percent. According to Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent of finance, the Loomis district is not in jeopardy of going bankrupt, facing a state takeover or closing schools. In early March, Stewart said, the district submitted a budget to the county that was balanced by making cuts and using reserves. He said the district initially filed a report in December 2009 showing expenses greater than income in order to make “the county aware that we know there are (financial) problems, but we don’t need any help.” The school board is hoping contract negotiations with the teachers union, which are now in mediation, will allow the district to bring back pink-slipped teachers, according to Mike Edwards, board member. “I will be pushing for a solution to the financial crisis that does not balance the budget by laying off teachers or cutting programs,” Edwards said. He said “shared sacrifice” is the only way to make cuts that won’t affect the classroom. According to Robin Parmley, president of the Loomis teachers' union, district teachers’ pay is already lower than that of teachers in neighboring districts and Loomis teachers shouldn’t have to take any further cuts to balance the district’s budget. “We all realize that we are in a financial crisis. But your fair share cuts are just not reasonable,” Debbie Newton, a teacher at H. Clarke Powers, told the school board at their December meeting. The district maintains a four percent reserve, which is one percent above the state requirement. Districts are allowed to spend the reserves, but when they do, a plan must be shown for replacing the reserves within three years. The Loomis district issued 21 pink slips to teachers before the state-mandated deadline of March 15, informing those teachers they might not have a job next year. Final lay-off notices must be delivered by May 15. Districts can rescind pink slips and final layoff notices and bring teachers back, if and when, money is found to fund their salaries, even up to the start of the new school year. "The district put the cart before the horse. They asked teachers to take a large paycut before exploring cuts to other areas first. LTA (Loomis Teachers' Association) has proposed retirement incentives that could save jobs while saving the district money for years to come. We are working with the district and hope that this will help solve the budget crisis," Parmley said. Jon Green, of Penryn, is a former Ukiah school board member and is active in the Republican Party. He suggested numerous ways the Loomis district can weather the budget crisis. According to Green, the district should look at reducing student absences for truancy and family vacations. His wife, Karen, a former Del Oro counselor, said, “California law doesn’t allow districts to be paid if students are absent for any reason.” Jon Green suggested increasing class size, cutting services, having parents pay for extras, and eliminating the county and state boards of education. Jon Green said the district should combine with Del Oro High School to form one district. He also said year-round school and double sessions may be the only way to have smaller class sizes in the future. Toni Miller, a Placer Elementary School parent, said she doesn’t want to see teachers or programs cut. She said district employees and teachers shouldn’t get any salary increases whatsoever, but she hopes teacher pay won’t be cut. “We need to be able to keep quality teachers. Cutting teacher salaries should be a last resort,” Miller said. ---------------------------- LOOMIS UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT 2009-10 SCHOOL YEAR Number of schools: Six, grades K-8 Students: 2,257 Employees: 199 Expenses: $16,296,663 Income: $14,614,308 Un-restricted reserves: Four percent, three percent is state mandated Percent of budget spent on non-instructional items: 20.4 percent, plus 2.6 percent spent on debt payment for school building and before- and after-school care programs Number of pink slips issued: 21 Student/teacher ratio: grades K-3 are 20.9 to 1, grades 4 and 5 are 22.5 to 1, grades 6, 7 and 8 are 29.5 to 1 Teacher salary range: $38,961 to $77,000 for 183 days worked Principal salary range: $86,000 to $98,000 for 209 days worked Assistant superintendent to superintendent salary range: $103,400 to $142,393 for 222 days worked TEACHER SALARIES BY DISTRICT District Starting Top Average Loomis $38,105 $78,170 $58,036 Rocklin $34,997 $80,856 $62,012 Eureka $38,371 $78,525 $66,829 ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES BY DISTRICT District Assistant Superintendent Superintendent Loomis $103,406 - $116,000 $142,393 Rocklin $108,335 - $132,568 $176,175 Eureka $99,000 - $117,000 $165,000 LOOMIS UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT 2010-11 Estimated expenditures: $14,198,268 Estimated revenue: $14,034,873 Proposed cuts Elimination of: physical education program, including three teachers, music program, including three teachers, 9.5 additional teachers, one assistant superintendent and one district office position. Two additional furlough days and a freeze in salary step for administrative staff, management and classified employees. Cuts in athletics, printing and miscellaneous. Teacher contracts are in mediation.