The Coronado Unified School District has avoided the painful fiscal decisions other districts in the state have had to make.
The release last week of Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget changed that. Superintendent Jeffrey Felix and district trustees have started to realize that, without new state revenues it may not be possible anymore to avoid issuing mass layoff notices.
“I’m prepared to layoff 15 percent of the teachers in the 2013-2014 school year,” he said Thursday at a meeting of the school board.
On May 14 . Funding for current K-12 programs remains the same, but if voters reject the governor’s fall tax initiatives, future allocations will be slashed.
“Coronado will lose $1.2 million,” Assistant Superintendent Randie Allen told the trustees.
The district still has $4.7 million in reserves, but trustees expect a large chunk of that money to be gone after the school year that begins in August.
“We will use half of (the reserves) to keep things as they are for next year,” Trustee Dawn Ovrom said.
The following year the reserve fund will be depleted to the point that officials will have to look for places to cut and “the only way the district can save money is by laying people off,” said Bruce Shepherd, president of the school board.
“Everything else has to be negotiated and the cuts we would have to make would be so draconian that we would never win those negotiations,” he said, suggesting that wages would have to be slashed by 10 percent and class days by 15 percent.
The district has been warning for weeks that less drastic cost-saving measures schools relied upon in recent years might not be enough in the future.
Maintaining healthy reserves, carefully husbanding dwindling resources and coaxing concessions from teachers and staff –in the form of furlough days – had kept budget prospects brighter for Coronado than for other communities.
Felix said he is now in the position of pushing hard for Brown's tax package, while warning of the dire consequences facing local schools if it fails.
“As a superintendent I’m begging parents and the community to vote for the tax initiatives on the November ballot,” he said. “It is the only way we have a chance to survive the next few years.
“I told you that we would glide to a crash landing, not that we won’t crash,” he said. “Now I’m here to tell you when we will crash.”