Walnut, Diamond Bar schools moving toward layoffs

Walnut Valley uses teacher concessions, future layoffs to balance budgets

By Steve Scauzillo,Staff Writer


The Walnut Valley Unified School District will use a combination of concessions from teachers and classified employees, as well as layoffs to balance its budget for the next three years.

Last week, the school board ratified a new contract for 650 certificated teachers and is awaiting approval of a contract with its classified employees. But savings from those contracts, combined with additional monies from the state as a result of voter-approved Prop. 30 in November, will not be enough to send the financially troubled district into the black.

By March 15, the district will have notified between 10 and 15 teachers of layoffs for the 2013-14 school year which begins Aug. 19, said Superintendent Dean Conklin.

“The new budget plan includes a combination of reductions (i.e. layoffs) and furlough days. These changes along with the benefits associated with the passage of Prop. 30, move our fiscal situation from a negative certification to a positive certification,” Conklin said.

The school board will designate the laid off teachers at its next meeting on March 6, he said. “We need to get smaller,” he said.

WVUSD will realize $12 million in savings over the next 2 1/2 years: $4 million shaved from teacher, management and classified salaries; $4 million in additional cost-of-living monies from the state and $4 million from layoffs, he said.

The cutbacks will move the district from a negative declaration to a positive declaration.

“The future is looking bright and we are thrilled to be moving beyond our financial challenges,” said Board President Helen Hall in a news release.

First, the district’s teachers voted 444-19 to reduce salaries by 1.09 percent by the end of May via mandated furlough days. Four furlough days for the 2013-14 school year and for the 2014-15 school year amount to a 2.2 percent salary reduction.

Larry Taylor, president of the Walnut Valley Educators Association, wrote on the union website that the teachers “have stepped forward and placed students first and themselves last, in an effort to mitigate the financial calamity of the WVUSD.”

In addition, the district has received a tentative agreement from the Classified School Employee Association representing about 500 classified non-teaching employees.

Finally, cost-of-living adjustments being forwarded from the state amount to $4.2 million for the next 2 1/2 years.

The district is also making plans to spend some $39.8 million it will receive from sale of surplus property in Diamond Bar known as “Site D.” However, that will only be realized upon close of escrow with Lennar Homes, the developer/purchaser. Funds may be used to pay off long-term debt obligations, to free up general fund debt service commitments and to fund capital facility projects and technology infrastructure, according to a district news release.

The district must close a $4.3 budget million deficit by the end of June, and erase projected deficits of $5.71 million for 2013-14 and $7.2 million for 2014-15. It must submit a revised budget plan to the Los Angeles County Office of Education showing balanced budgets with the requisite 3 percent reserves by the middle of March, Conklin said.

If accepted by LACOE, the district’s revised spending plan will reverse the negative certification to a “positive” one, meaning it can meet its financial obligations for the remainder of this year and the next two full school years.

WVUSD – which includes schools in Walnut and Diamond Bar – is the only district in the San Gabriel Valley to file “a negative certification.” With a 906 API score for 2012, it is also one of eight in the county and one of 19 in the state to reach the 900 mark.




Former Walnut star basketball player found shot to death in Irvine

[BYNAME]By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
[BODY]Walnut High School faculty and students gathered at the school on Monday to hold a candlelight vigil for 28-year-old Monica Quan, a former Walnut High student-athlete found shot to death in a car along with her fiance, 27-year-old Keith Lawrence, on the top floor of a parking structure at an upscale condominium complex in Irvine Sunday night.
Authorities say they have no motive or suspects in the killing.
Quan graduated from Walnut in 2002 and earned a basketball scholarship to Long Beach State. She coached briefly at Diamond Bar High School, according to Dean Conklin, superintendent of Walnut Valley Unified School District
She eventually graduated from Concordia University in 2007 with a degree in exercise and sport science and completed her master’s in 2009.
Officers found the couple’s bodies after someone reported seeing Lawrence slumped over the wheel of his vehicle.
Quan was found in the front passenger seat and Lawrence was in the driver seat, Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen said.
“It doesn’t appear they were robbed,” Engen told the Orange County Register. “There’s no obvious motive.”
Quan was in her second season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton. Lawrence and Quan played basketball at Concordia University.
“The loss of any member of the Titan family causes our community great grief, but the loss of one of our own under these circumstances is indeed tragic and heart-wrenching,” CSUF President Mildred Garcia said in a statement Monday. “We hope that Monica’s family and friends will feel and be comforted by our support during this difficult time.”
Quan, the daughter of Sylvia and Randal, was a four-year varsity basketball standout at Walnut, earning All CIF-Southern Section, All-Baseline League and all-area honors during her four-year prep career.
Quan, a member of the Walnut High Hall of Fame, set schools records for most three-pointers during a season (59)and game (7), while averaging 15 points, six assists and three steals her senior year.
Walnut High School Principal Jeff Jordan remembered Monica for her “bubbly personality and for her competitiveness on the basketball court,” Conklin said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Mike James was the Walnut girls basketball coach for two years while Quan was there. James coached Quan her freshman and sophomore years before moving on to Diamond Ranch, where he is currently the girls basketball coach.
James followed Quan’s career after she graduated and maintained a relationship with his former player.
“It’s devastating news,” James said. “I had to take a step back and gather myself. I hadn’t talked with her in a couple months and she just got engaged.
“She was a young coach and her future was in coaching and it was was going to be bright. Her goal was to be a college coach and she was one of the brightest and smartest kids in the world. She had everything going for. It’s unthinkable what happened.”
Walnut athletic director Jerry Person remembers Quan well. It was his first year as Walnut’s athletic director when Quan was performing her magic in 2002.
He was floored upon hearing the news Monday.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m still in shock,” Person said. “She was very tenacious. She had real good skills on the basketball court and off the court she was just a great young lady. You could tell she was going to be something special. It’s horrible what happened.”
[TAG1]The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Staff Writers Steve Scauzillo and Ruby Gonzales contributed to this story.