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School Board Approves Budget, Finalizes Cuts for Upcoming School Year

The New Haven Board of Education approved the district's most recent budget configuration for the 2011-12 school year. The plan features more restorations than the district's previous budget projection.

The Board of Education finalized New Haven Unified School District's budget plan for the 2011-12 school year Tuesday night.

The , which was unveiled earlier this month, is based on the state's latest budget figures and is subject to change pending final adoption of a state budget by California legislators.

Gov. Jerry Brown's spending plan from last month allocates more money for schools, including about $4 million for New Haven. The additional funds will put the district at an operating budget of approximately $98 million for the 2011-2012 school year. Yet the figure still represents $6 million less in state funding than the 2010-2011 school year and $15 million less than just three years ago, according to district officials.

Though Brown’s plan has yet to be approved by state legislators, state law requires the school board to pass a preliminary budget by July 1 of each year.

“We’re obligated to go on what the governor says, but those numbers, especially in the future, always change,” said Superintendent Kari McVeigh. “These numbers are predicated on a state budget we still don’t have.”

If the state budget is passed, the funds would reduce the district's shortfall from $10.4 million to $6.1 million.

To close the gap, next year's budget will reduce the school year from 180 to 175. The shortened year, combined with an additional furlough day for all employees, will save the district approximately $2.13 million.

The budget also calls for class size increases from 20 to 25 for kindergartners and from 25 to 30 for third graders; first and second grades will remain at the current 25-student class size.

In addition, four counseling positions, a psychologist, a classified management position, high school print shop and transportation for middle school students will be eliminated. Bus service at the elementary level was cut this year and at the high school level two years ago. 

In the final budget, each of the district’s seven elementary schools will only have a part-time assistant principal two days a week. Alvarado and Cesar Chavez middle schools will have 1.5 assistant principal positions each instead of two, while James Logan and Conley Caraballo high schools lose one administrator each.

Cuts will also be made to technology and maintenance staff.

The district estimates it will have to make cuts every year until at least the 2015-16 school year in order to cover salary increases, health and welfare benefits, and other growing costs.

The reductions approved Tuesday night for the 2011-12 year will roll over into the next two school years, although Varadarajan expects enrollment to increase slightly by 50 students each year.

“It’s a very conservative number,” Varadarajan said. “We believe that as new developments are built near the BART station, we will get new students.”

The district made projections for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school year based on the current state budget plan. In it, the district calls for K-3 class sizes to increase to 30 to 1 and assumes federal programs will receive the same amount of funding as in previous years. However, furlough days would decrease from six in 2011-12 to five furlough days in 2012-13 and four furlough days the following year.

“It will take a long time to get back to full funding,” Varadarajan said.

Better Than Before

But the expected money from the state has reduced the number of cuts district officials expected to make in the 2011-12 school year, and some of the have been restored.

The district says some funding for adult education will be brought back; employees will have six nonpaid furlough days instead of nine; four—instead of eight—assistant principal positions have been eliminated; and first and second grades will remain at 25 students per classroom instead of the 30 proposed for K-3.

earlier this year could also be rehired; the number rehired may increase due to retirements and other attrition.

According to Charmaine Kawaguchi, president of the New Haven Teachers Association, 61 teachers received layoff notices. Of those, six have already been rehired.

The New Haven Teachers Association worked with the district to keep the libraries open at James Logan High School, Alvarado Middle School and Cesar Chavez Middle School by and to reinstate $200,000 of the approximately $360,000 that the district pays coaches and advisers for co-curricular activities such as athletics, band, forensics, choir and drama.

“As soon as the state budget moves forward, we can do more,” Kawaguchi said. “Right now, we just have to wait and see.”

The district will update the 2011-12 budget in August or September. 

Zinn June 22, 2011 at 05:27 PM
From the article: >>To close the gap, next year's budget will reduce the school year from 180 to 175. The shortened year, combined with an additional furlough day for all employees, will save the district approximately $2.13 million.<< So six fewer days of school equals $2.133 million in salary and benefits out of a $98 million dollar budget. That is roughly a little less than a 3% salary reduction. After taxes we are talking a few dollars a pay period difference. You mean the teachers can't give up a few dollars a month rather than short changing the kids education? Or hitting up the community for more taxes? Give me a break...
Zolla June 22, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Isn’t that something? Yet those who opposed the $180 parcel tax hike are deemed as the bad guys and it’s our fault for the cuts because we didn’t support it. Remember when being a teacher was a status of pride; knowing you were educating the future of our once wonderful country. Well that’s just what it is today, a memory.
Timothy Swenson June 22, 2011 at 08:59 PM
During a back-to-school night, one of my daughters teachers mentioned that he was given $10,000 for software. He was thinking about using Open Source software (at no cost) but went commercial because he was allocated the funds. If the school just evaluated their software usage and looked toward Open Source, the savings might be surprising.
Zolla June 22, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Yep, the good old reverse budget tactic. Very well used in the Democratic Party. Start with the least important programs and work your way to the important ones. That way they can use the excuse to raise taxes because they ran out of money. Kind of like the 12 million dollars the government gave to the Dept. of Transportation to send 17 government employees to travel to 12 other countries and study the environmental effects of billboards on public highways and then have the nerve to tell us we my need to cut Social Security and Medicare because the money’s not there or raise taxes to offset it. I’m sure the NHUSD is well aware of Open Source, but if they were to utilize that option, it would affect their budget for next year. And they couldn’t use the excuses or guilt tactic of having to layoff, cut salaries, or shortened school years. They wouldn’t have a foot to stand on when they try to pass the parcel tax again.
Tim June 23, 2011 at 12:42 AM
No one uses open source software. Nearly everyone uses Microsoft Office and the students need to be able to use it as well. That said, the costs for education licenses for Microsoft software is very low. Its not like the pay retail prices. I agree the district needs to cut and save and there's lots of ways to do it but this one isn't it in my opinion.
Timothy Swenson June 23, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Sorry, Tim, but I beg to differ. Open Source is used my most major corporations in browsers, operation systems, development tools, web servers, etc. I could list about 10 that I use at work. Open Office functions pretty much the same way as MS office, and I use both daily. Saving $10,000 is still saving $10,000.

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