Despite drastic cuts proposed for the 2010-2011 academic year, Davis residents still aim to protect public education at the Davis Joint Unified School District.
The DJUSD Board will issue layoff notices to over 100 district employees, including approximately 80.25 certificated employees such as teachers, counselors and district administrators, who will receive layoff notices before the state mandated deadline Mar. 15. Their layoff decisions will become final on May 15.
Notices will go out to 22.75 classified staff, which includes secretaries, maintenance, custodial and district staff, who will receive notices mid-April, taking effect on June 30.
“The current situation is unspeakably bad,” said Pam Mari, DJUSD director of Student Support Services.
The layoffs stem from the $5.6 million budget losses DJUSD faces. DJUSD’s loss reflects California’s broader education situation – reduced state funding for local school districts. This is the third consecutive year of DJUSD budget cuts.
“Our education system is heavily dependent on state funding,” said DJUSD president of Board of Trustees Tim Taylor. “This is a lose-lose situation. When we lose teachers, we have to limit courses and programs.”
Davis residents pay parcel taxes, or extra property taxes, that directly benefit the school district. The parcel taxes, Measures Q and W, support extra programs and services, such as libraries, art, science in elementary schools, music and counselors. Thus, money acquired from parcel taxes and community fundraising efforts helps to retain DJUSD employees’ jobs.
The Davis Schools Foundation, a nonprofit organization of community volunteers who work to provide public education for children in Davis, raised approximately $650,000 last year. In 2008, it raised $1.7 million, removing all of the layoff notices previously handed out in March.
Although most positions were not lost last year, reductions are deeper this year, meaning more employees will receive layoff notices.
“We are digging out of a deeper hole this year,” Taylor said.
The school district, in conjunction with the Davis Teachers Association, representing certificated employees, and the California School Employees Association, representing classified staff, is discussing an addition of five furlough days to employees’ 2010-2011 contracts in an effort to save jobs.
This year, the bulk of cuts will affect core classes, including math, English, social science and science, especially at the elementary school level.
“Nothing is being spared except protected programs,” Mari said.
Raising class sizes and decreasing elective options are further repercussions of the cuts.
Despite the fluctuating educational situation, Mari said everyone should remain positive and remind themselves of what has not changed – the kids.
“We need to get everybody through this with the best attitude and the best outlook,” Mari said. “The kids are the same; we have the same goals for them. We need to keep our eyes on the horizon and prepare them for the future.”
Robert Woolley, president of the Davis Schools Foundation, is optimistic about residents’ fundraising efforts.
“Davis residents have consistently supported quality education,” Woolley said in an e-mail interview. “It is important that we educate the community as to the severity of the cuts this year and I feel again they will respond as they always do.”
The Davis Schools Foundation is launching its 2010 Dollar-a-Day campaign on Thursday, Mar. 4, when the foundation will disseminate information outlining the $650 per child that the state is cutting from next year’s DJUSD budget. The campaign will end May 15. Anyone who is interested in helping with the 2010 Dollar-a-Day campaign can attend a leadership forum event on Mar. 4, at 8:45 a.m., at the Davis Odd Hall, 415 Second St.
The Davis Schools Foundation’s main goal is to raise $5.6 million, enough money to cover the lost funding from the state and restore cut positions for the 2010-2011 school year.
“After several years of funding cuts, any additional cuts to programs and teachers will have a dramatic effect on the students’ education,” Woolley said.
THERESA MONGELLUZZO can be reached at email@example.com.