Mon07282014

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LASD trustees study possible program cuts

Kenyon

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees has scheduled a study session Thursday to review which educational programs could be downsized or eliminated.

The additional budget cuts are part of the ongoing effort to remain financially stable through what is expected to be a long recovery from the economic downturn.

With the March 15 pink-slip deadline looming, trustees must decide where cuts will be made, based on advice from the Budget Review Committee, which submitted recommendations after its meeting last week.

Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the district continues to identify opportunities for additional revenues even as it reduce expenditures to offset the $4 million deficit.

At their regular meeting Feb. 7, trustees considered the savings each program would generate if cut and the resulting impact on the district as a whole.

Kenyon reiterated that the district is reviewing four budget scenarios, based on whether voters approve a state-tax extension in June and whether the local $193 parcel tax passes in May.

Kenyon said that if the state taxes, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month and waiting for approval from the state Legislature, are not extended by a majority vote, the district would face a $1.5 million hit, which translates to $330 per student less from state funding.

If the parcel tax passes, the district stands to gain $2.3 million a year.

In the search for areas to increase revenue, Kenyon said the district is in discussions with the Los Altos Educational Foundation and the local PTAs to evaluate the possibility of increased contributions. Officials are also consulting with employee representatives regarding savings from collective bargaining.

The evaluations considered the extent of the changes in education as well as the monetary savings. Some programs could be redesigned to increase the input of classroom teachers and avoid complete elimination.

Programs considered for cuts and the estimated savings include:

• English Language Learner program: $350,000.

• Science specialists: up to $150,000.

• Computer specialists: up to $400,000.

• Music/art program: up to $450,000 (in consultation with educational foundation).

• Physical Education program: up to $450,000 (in consultation with educational foundation).

• Library program: up to $325,000 (releasing staff or reduced hours).

• Special Education program: to be evaluated – pending reconfiguration and reduction of special aides.

• Class-size increase to 30:1: up to $1.2 million (20 fewer teacher positions).

• Combination classes and 30:1 class size: up to $700,000 (12 fewer teachers).

• Junior high Teacher-in-Charge positions: up to $100,000.

• Junior high counselors: up to $112,500.

• Advanced Math program (sixth grades): up to $135,000.

• Maintenance and operations: up to $100,000.

• District office support staff: up to $75,000.

• Shortened school year: up to $500,000 (three fewer days, equivalent of 2.7 percent salary reduction for teachers).

• Close school site: up to $400,000. (Trustees ruled out this option for the 2011-2012 school year.)

“If given a choice, we don’t have a desire to eliminate,” said Superintendent Jeff Baier. “There are really difficult choices. We are no longer cutting extras.”

The board is scheduled to continue discussion 7 p.m. Thursday in the District Office Board Room, 201 Covington Road, Los Altos.

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