Prop 30 passage avoids cuts to school year
No unpaid furlough days for employees, and possible nest egg for district
The passage of Proposition 30 won praise from district staff and school board at its meeting Tuesday night.
Gov. Jerry Brown's measure assures the district will receive flat funding for the year, although it won't bring any new cash -- and in fact will still mean a cut of about $150,000.
However, the district won't have to implement four unpaid employee furlough days that had been built into the budget and won't have to cut its school year.
"It's good news for us," said Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services. "It allows us to remove the risky assumptions (that were) in the governor's budget."
Cazares said the district based its 2012-13 budget on a potential $7.1 million loss in state funding -- cutting 70 jobs in the process -- so Prop 30 will create a bit of a nest egg.
"We expect to end the year with a very healthy fund balance," Cazares told the board. She's currently predicting the district will end the year with $6.4 million above its 3% reserve.
Prop 30 will also mean districts get money from the state more promptly, so they won't have to do any short-term borrowing to pay their bills. Cazares still expects the district to be $2 million in the red at the end of May, before it gets money owed by the state, and said the district could have to take a short-term loan known as TRANS to cover its bills.
School board members pointed out that the passage of Prop 30 doesn't mean the district is on sound financial ground.
"The passage of (Prop) 30 doesn't bring one additional dollar to the district," said Board Member Chris Grant.
Over the next few months, the district will begin crafting its budget for the 2013-14 school year. The district is still waiting on the governor's budget, due out in January, to help determine the long-term effects of Prop 30's impact.
Also at its meeting Tuesday night the board discussed the implementation of a new nationwide set of learning standards known as Common Core State Standards. CCSS was "backwards mapped," so that students graduating from any high school in the country will be ready for college and ready to compete with students across the globe after building skills from year to year.
Teachers will be required to begin integrating CCSS into their classes in the 2014-15 school year.
Odie Douglas, assistant superintendent of educational services, said the district has already begun the groundwork to make that happen.
"There will be fewer standards that teachers will teach, but a greater depth. It's no longer a time for passive learners, they (students) need to be active learners," he said. "We have students who may be struggling readers but they can think."
Under CCSS, students will do more writing in general and more writing based on non-fiction sources, and show a growing ability to reason abstractly, construct arguments and critique the work of others.
"This is a radical change," said Board Member Jeff Bowser. "If we have to do this, we've got to do it right."
The district also approved a new course at both Foothill and Amador Valley high schools that will let students become peer teachers. Michele O'Neill, a teacher at Foothill, told the board that the peer teachers are enthusiastic about teaching struggling students, and that those students often learn better from a peer than they do from an adult.