Multiple Year Reduction Plan, farewells focus of CUSD meeting

Mike Bowsher hands out balloons to board members and teachers at the Calaveras Unified School District board meeting on Dec. 11. as thanks from his wife Karan.

The Calaveras Unified School District (CUSD) board meeting carried an unusually light and cheerful air on Dec. 11, despite the subject matter.

The meeting began with a presentation from Kassandra Booth, director of fiscal services, about the budget, and ended with a room full of brightly colored metallic star balloons.

Booth talked about the interim budget, including expenditures as of Oct. 1. The finalized report will be released after December.

The presentation included an update of the Multiple Year Reduction Plan (MYP). In the MYP, $289,000 in reductions have been made to date for the 2018-19 school year. The reductions include the following positions: a part-time nurse position; three paraeducator positions; one certificated position and one site office position. In 2019-20, CUSD plans to make $1.95 million in reductions, including more than 11 teachers and department budgets, among other items. In 2020-21, CUSD has made $345,000 in reductions, including teachers, a district office position, and site lottery reductions.

“We have a significant amount of work to do in balancing fiscal realities and program needs, and it will take strong collaboration from all involved to make the hard decisions that are necessary, while still working to provide the best programs for our students that we can,” said Mark Campbell, superintendent.

The district received an unexpected increase to the General Fund revenue. About 83 percent of CUSD’s funds are acquired through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which is 72 percent property tax and 28 percent state aid and Education Protection Account. Booth confirmed that the current year LCFF is projected to be $26.3 million at the first interim of the new school year, which is $331,051 higher than the prior school year’s LCFF revenue and $87,275 higher than what was originally projected for the current year.

Booth also confirmed that the number of California Basic Education Data System (CBEDS) was higher than anticipated this year, which was previously estimated to be 55 percent. Fifty-six percent of district children are classified as CBEDS, which is due to foster, homeless, English-learning, and low-income status. Most of this data is obtained through direct certification, which is when a student’s family receives public aid and self-identifies themselves in one of these categories.

In the budget, a predicted 2 percent decrease in enrollment was assumed over the next five years, which is in line with the average decreasing attendance trend over the past five years.

The trustees also passed a measure to sell the sewage treatment plant at Jenny Lind Elementary School to the Calaveras County Water District. The board passed the motion 5-0.

The sewage plant will be taken over by CCWD. The school district will now pay $3,700 every two months, which is approximately a 50-percent savings from the operating cost of maintaining the sewage facility, which was roughly $4,000 a month.

According to a joint press release from CUSD and CCWD, a planning grant of $500,000 was obtained in early 2018 by CUSD to develop the project. CUSD will also apply for a construction grant from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund in 2019 to fund the improvements to the facility expected to cost $7 million. CCWD will also work with CUSD to create a memorandum of understanding that CCWD will provide sewer services to the school after the grant is obtained.

“This is a good example of a clear need being demonstrated and CCWD being able to help facilitate what I hope is going to be a great solution to the problem Jenny Lind Elementary is having with its onsite wastewater treatment plant,” said CCWD Board President Russ Thomas. “As this project moves ahead, we look forward to working closely with the school district to see this project through.”

The next budget update for 2019-20 is expected in January, along with the 2017-18 audit report.

The trustee-approved plan includes $1.9 million in reductions for 2019-20, and $2.3 million in reductions for 2020-21.

At the end of the board meeting, long-standing CUSD board members Karan Bowsher and Zerrall McDaniel each addressed the board and the room, which was full of teachers and miscellaneous district staff. Bowsher has served for eight years and McDaniel has served for 19 years.

Campbell recognized McDaniel and Bowsher for their service, which was 19 and eight years, respectively.

“You’ve given so much,” Campbell said. “It’s been an honor to serve with you – your support has been phenomenal.”

“We serve children – and by serving children, we have to remember why we serve children. And that’s because there’s always hope, there’s always wonder, there’s always awe, and there’s always fun,” Bowsher said. “I have something for all of you, and you better take it, because I want to remind you.

“You all are stars. You all have it within you. You all have that spark of childhood within you,” Bowsher said as her husband brought in a large cluster of metallic star balloons and handed one to each person in the room.

The new board members, Suzie Coe and Christine Noble, will be sworn in on Jan. 22 at 5 p.m.

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