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Loomis Union, teachers talk contract

Negotiations taking place as district prepares for more cuts
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The Loomis Union School District has begun contract negotiations with the teachers’ union in anticipation of continued state cuts to education. The Loomis Teachers Association and the district announced the commencement of their negotiations in a press release and stated, “Both groups expressed hope that an agreement could be reached that would be fair and equitable.” Paul Johnson, district superintendent, said, “The tenor of negotiations was respectful and constructive.” The district has been directed by the state to plan budgets with the assumption that the proposed extension of increased sales, income and vehicle taxes will not be approved by the legislature or voters. By March 15, the district will be required to issue notices to teachers whose jobs may be cut, even though contract negotiations may not be concluded or final budgets received from the state. Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent, said that after further adjustment, the anticipated deficit for the 2011-2012 school year is now $342,360. This figure includes an agreement from the district to commit $152,185 in reserves toward the deficit. This commitment from reserves will leave the district with an additional $153,790 in economic reserves and an additional $153,790 in a declining enrollment fund. These reserves are in excess of the state-required minimum of three percent reserves. The state will only allow districts to use the three percent reserves if there is a feasible plan to replace the money within three years. Johnson and the teachers’ union said in the press release that the district’s financial outlook would “significantly improve” if the extension of existing taxes are passed. For the current school year, Stewart said the district started out with a $1.1 million deficit and used $427,000 from reserves, along with furlough days taken by all district staff to balance the budget. The district and union representatives will continue to hold negotiation sessions.