How Would You Cut $2.58 Million From Sonoma Schools?

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District is soliciting community feedback on what to keep and what to cut to meet 2012 budget cuts.

Dozens of parents, school board members and teachers shuffled into the Monday for the first of two community forums to address $2.588 million in district budget cuts.

(The Tuesday night meeting attracted over 100 people.)

Furlough days, sports programs, programs for teen mothers and bus routes are all on the district's potential chopping block.

See the full list of potential cuts here. Watch the district's power point presentation at right. 

"The news got worse over the summer, due to taxes coming in lower than expected," said Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese. Instead of dropping by just  two percent, total revenues dropped to three percent, he said.

"We're much less confident that next year is going to be a growth year," he told the crowd.

The lower tax revenue was compounded by the state's new 'fair share' policy, which appropriates money from school districts to the state level.  As a Basic Aid district, Sonoma Valley Unified School District is able to keep tax revenue, above the state's set amount per student, in district, explained Frese.

Now, the state wants $2.5 million from the SVUSD – almost three-quarters of the district's current $3.8 million deficit – in a new program called 'fair share.'   The state will request additional 'fair share' payments each year, of a to-be-determined amount.

The district is still waiting until January to hear on their 'worst case scenario," said Frese, when the state may funnel an additional $1.5 million in cuts to the district, and end home to school transfer throughout the state.

Though Frese called the $2.58 million in cuts "pretty aggressive," he also noted that it's the bare minimum required for the district to stay financially viable.

Parents, for the most part, had a unified message for district officials: keep class sizes small. One of the proposed budget cuts would increase class sizes in grades K-3 to 30 students per teacher.

"Class size reduction: that's the foundation of everyone's future," said one parent. "How much is that gonna cost us in the future of these kids?"

Another parent, who teaches in Napa, where class sizes already bloomed to the 30-students per-teacher max told officials: "It's not pretty."

"While we don't want to eliminate any of these programs, obviously, so when we say eliminate funding, we're open to the possibility of finding funding from another organization," said Superintendent Louann Carlomagno.

Officials are hoping that attendees, and other parents and residents, will give the district more feedback in what programs they consider essential – and what can end up on the chopping block.

"Pick your numbers and come back with how you'd come up with the $2.58 million," said Frese.

Give your imput to the on how you'd balance the district's budget. Review the list of potential budget cuts here and email your thoughts to Superintendent Louann Carlomagno or Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese. Keep an eye out to the district's website, where more clarifying information will be posted regarding budget cuts. We'll post to Patch when something shows up.

Mr Crane October 21, 2011 at 07:03 PM
1. Remove Board benefits, they joined the board to help. 2. Remove Executives that let this get this far. 3. Cut "crunchy feel-good programs" and go back to teaching the basics including Art, Music, and Shop, if the state or fed wants special programs THEY must pre-pay for them. 4. Cut dual emersion, "it's a nice thought, but we are broke and the kids have enough trouble with proper english". 5. Do NOT cut the actual teaching staff. 6. Ask for community vollunteers to help with administration, the elders in every community have a wealth of knowledge and heritage that our kids really need. 7. Review and ask for reductions on all external contracts, these are hard times and your vendors know it, they should be willing to meet you part way, if not, cancel that contract and post thier reactions in the news for public support.
Suzanne Barbara October 21, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Lots of good suggestions from "Mr Crane" who posted just before me. However, I don't know if i agree with eliminating the dual immersion program. Schools need to try to meet the needs of all students and with a large poulation in Sonoma schools who speak Spanish as a primary language, dual immersion benefits all. I also would like to see less pencil pushing in the school office but I don't think volunteers can take over for all the paid professionals there. But I really do like suggestions 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 plus set up some kind of volunteer program to involve the community in the schools in ways that benefit the students.
Dorothy October 21, 2011 at 08:27 PM
What about senior citizen volunteer "teacher aids" in the classroom who can work one on one with students to whom they are assigned or can even read a story to lower grades.
Renee October 21, 2011 at 08:33 PM
I know this goes against the idea of the above writers who want to get rid of pencil pushers in the schools. But, there are grants out there for special programs where the money does not come from the district or from the state. Instead the money might come from private sources or from the federal government. You need to write up "grant proposals" for these and sometimes you can bring in special programs to your school by doing this. If the program replaces a school funded reading program or immersion program, then the school budget could be cut without the program being cut. Perhaps a volunteer could look into some of the grants for which the individual schools would be eligible and then work with an education professional to write up a grant proposal.
drof2th October 22, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Pensions!!! I and everyone I know WILL NOT get a pension so, cut pensions!!!
Suzanne Barbara October 22, 2011 at 01:37 AM
Interesting point drof2th: It might be time to look at the overall benefits package for school staffs and to bring them more in line with what industry gives. I would seem that rather than losing jobs, many people involved in education would give up some benefits.
Alexis Fitts October 22, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Thanks for all the great comments. It sounds like a similar consensus to the meetings: cut anything but keep class sizes small.
Ralph Hutchinson October 23, 2011 at 06:38 AM
Bust the Teachers Union and hire high performing teachers and pay them for what they contribute to solid education and have innovative methods and capture the kids attention in today's competitive world. Relieve the unmotivated of their duties...most are the highest paid and least productive and this would free up considerable salary. Cut out the dead woodt, stale, and under achievers. Stick to the 7 basic liberal arts and sciences. Keep the sports and Ag programs. Build a Vocational School that teaches real life skills to kids that slip through the "college-prep" cracks like carpentry, automotive, cosmetology, landscaping, and basic small business. This vocational track will take the "bored and troubled youth" element out of the mainstream high school, result in less on campus stress, and provide these kids with real hope and dreams of success instead of hopelessness.
Dee Baucher October 24, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Throughout the nation, the most successful public schools are the "charter schools". These schools are able to cut out the unions and other "middle men", and are able to be much more responsive to parent and individual student needs. Curriculum are better, test scores are better, and the satisfaction of families and teachers is better. The costs are cut down, compared to the traditional public school systems, and there is much more accountability for how all the resources are used. I believe the only hope for public schools is to increase the numbers of charter schools, so that eventually, almost all of the public schools have been converted to these. The unions are trying to block this evolution, because they will retain no power for themselves when this occurs. It is the only solution for the current state of disintegration of public education in our country.
Irene Morgan October 25, 2011 at 05:25 PM
It sounds as if a number of us think that the unions need to bend and give up some of their benefits for the sake of the students. It used to be that unions were started to protect the weakest of workers, and years ago teachers were probably included in that group. But in this economy many of us have had to make choices about our overall work packages, with reduced benefits and in some cases reduced salaries. There really is no reason why teachers should be immune. And the Charter Schools do set an example of devoted teaching and students.
Todd Kneeland October 29, 2011 at 07:40 PM
In February 2009, to help districts deal with budget cuts, lawmakers made substantial changes to many of the state’s categorical programs, allowing districts the flexibility through 2012–13 to use funds from about 40 state categorical programs for other educational purposes. (The flexibility was subsequently extended to 2014–15 by Senate Bill 70, Chapter 7/Statutes of 2011.) These newly flexible programs totaled about $4.5 billion statewide in 2009–10 (nearly 20% lower than their 2008–09 funding level). Prior to implementing this new flexibility, a school district or county office of education (COE) must discuss proposed changes at a public hearing.
Todd Kneeland October 29, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Establish a flexibility/ accountability task force //// to identify strategies and metrics to determine whether districts are using their funds in ways that support successful outcomes for all students .


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something