Walnut Valley uses teacher concessions, future layoffs to balance budgets
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.