Board will forego budget revote, adopt austerity plan

| 21 Feb 2012 | 11:00

    CENTRAL VALLEY-The Monroe-Woodbury School Board will adopt an austerity plan that calls for a state-mandated $2 million in cuts, rather than ask residents to vote again on its original $119.9 million spending plan. Schools Superintendent Frank Moscati said the cuts could affect all but non-mandated programs and range from items such as not completing the playground at North Main Elementary and possibly eliminating the "no-cut" rule on athletic teams to reducing field trips for students, conferences for teachers and administrators and shortening summer programs that are not self-sustaining. Also facing elimination would be the seven certified positions and three support staff jobs contained in the original budget as well as roof repairs to Central Valley Elementary and other capital projects elsewhere within the district. And there may also be increased fees for the use of the district's athlete fields and buildings. None of these items are final. Moscati said he will make his recommendations to the school board at its meeting on June 8. "We did an administrative analysis of the vote," Moscati said, "and our recommendation to the board was that it was unlikely we could galvanize enough ‘yes' votes to make up for the 500-vote margin." Last week, residents defeated the budget proposal by a vote of 1,726 Yes to 2,282 No. Voters also defeated a $1.79 million to purchase new school buses by a 250-vote margin. The spending proposal would have increased taxes an average of 5.7 percent. And it was taxes that seemed to be at the heart of budget's defeat. "We thought we had made the case through the numerous presentations we made in the community," the superintendent said. We put together this budget with great restraint. But please don't interpret that if we cut something, it's not needed." Moscati said the cuts he will propose will not eliminate any program nor would they affect student outcome. There are more than 7,200 students in the school, with projections for an addition 100 or more entering the classrooms come September. The district also employs more than 1,200 people. The summer enrichment program and summer school classes will not be affected, Moscati said, because those programs support themselves. The summer enrichment program at the elementary school level, however, may be reduced from six weeks to four weeks. Similarly, conferences for teachers and administrations will be restricted to those that deal with state aid and state testing programs. This will be the second time in three years the district will be operating under an austerity plan.