In a meeting held on Tuesday, April 27, the Tamalpais Union High School District board proposed $2.4 million in cuts for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The administration emphasized that the financial changes should not significantly affect academics; students in the Tam district will still attend school for 180 days out of the year, and upcoming layoffs will not target teachers. However, other aspects of the district will see revision, in an ongoing attempt to minimize the ill effects of the statewide budget crisis.Changes include the discontinuation of summer school in 2011, various management layoffs (to be announced in an upcoming board meeting), the removal of the sophomore literacy portfolio requirement, and a reduced work year for most staff members.
Furthermore, the district plans to cut an additional $2.69 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, eventually reaching $7 million in cuts over three years. The district’s teaching staff will remain mostly unaffected, losing only three work days per year, but the classified staff’s jobs may be at risk. Classified staff are employees without teaching or administrative credentials, such as secretaries and custodians.
“Over the course of three years, we are cutting more than $7 million from our budget,” said Superintendent Laurie Kimbrel in an article by the Marin Independent Journal. “It’s gut-wrenching. It’s heartbreaking. But there’s simply no way to cut that amount out of a $55 million budget without impacting personnel. We value every one of our employees, but we’ve got to balance the budget.”
During the meeting it was proposed that the number of layoffs and other district-wide modifications might be reduced or even prevented if the district’s financial reserves were tapped – but there was opposition. “We need to be very protective of the reserves because of the continued uncertainty in the state’s economic picture,” said Trustee John Wright in an article by the Marin Independent Journal. “[The district’s] cutbacks are lighter than most.”
But other district employees are frustrated. “We all accept the fact that the reductions need to be made,” said Tam’s Budget Secretary Leslie Holt. “It’s something being experienced by every public school district in California… But it is a little bit hard to understand why these cuts and reductions are coming from such a small group of classifieds. It’s a little hard to understand why it’s not a little more spread out.”
Holt was disappointed in the district’s last-minute solution. “I personally think the district could have been more proactive three to four years ago when we first saw the economy starting to [falter],” she said.
Written by Brent Peters. This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue.