West Contra Costa Board of Education Meeting January 19

There was some very alarming news for supporters of adult education in the Governor’s Budget Update that was presented at this meeting:  The Governor’s Budget proposes extending flexibility into 2015. Flexibility is a supposedly temporary arrangement, an accounting measure that was part of the budget fix of 2008, which has proved devastating to adult education.  Until 2008, adult education was a “categorical” program, with its own funding that could not be used for other purposes by the school district. In 2008, adult education was put into Tier III of flexibility, meaning the district could now use adult education money with no restrictions.   This arrangement has already resulted in some districts eliminating their adult education programs altogether, while others slashed their programs deeply. Flexibility was originally supposed to end in 2013.  A two year extension means more adult education programs will be deeply cut and more may close. Supporters of adult education will need to come up with a response to this proposed extension.

The Governor’s Budget Update  painted a mixed picture of the possible effects of the Governor’s Budget on the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD).  The Governor’s Budget, though austere, attempts to spare K-12 education, and states a commitment to education.  The best news is that there will be no mid-year cuts for 2010-2011.

However, the plan to spare K-12 education further cuts is dependent  both on the legislature accepting severe cuts to other important health and social services programs AND on California voters approving the extension of several taxes in a special election in June.

Based on the various possible outcomes, there is are three scenarios, designated in the report as “Best Case”, “Worst Case” and “Much Worse than Worst Case”.  This may not be a standard use of English, but it eloquently expresses the state of California’s finances.

“Best Case” would only be possible if the legislature approves deep cuts to other programs and the voters approve the tax extensions.  If this were to happen, the district would still have to make some unspecified cuts, but K-3 class size reduction would be able to continue at this year’s level. The district is looking for ways to minimize the cuts.

“Worst Case”  would take place if the legislature adopts the cuts, but the voters don’t support the tax extensions.  In this case the district would lose $9 million and would have to lay off teachers.

Much Worse than Worst”, the result of the legislature refusing to approve cuts to other programs and voters rejecting the tax extensions, would lose the district an estimated $16 million.

Because the elections about the tax extensions won’t take place until June, the district must prepare for the worst case scenario by sending layoff notices to K-12 teachers in June.  The layoffs will be rescinded if the taxes pass and the legislature approves other cuts. However, even if the layoffs are rescinded, the process will of course be traumatic and agonizing for teachers and other employees who receive notices.

The report mentioned that in the worst case scenario (not worse than worst), the district would also have to consider further cuts to adult education and several other programs.

Note: Adult education teachers will not receive layoff notices in March, even though there may be cuts to adult education for the 2011-2012 school year, especially in the worst case scenario.  There is no need for the district to send layoff notices, because adult educaton teachers are not under contract, and it is not necessary to give them any notice at all before laying them off. They will not receive layoff notices in March because they have less job security than K-12 teachers, not more.

The district will hold a series of budget meetings during the week of January 24.  These meetings will be open to the public.  All meetings are from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. The schedule is as follows:

Monday, January 24                Helms Middle School

Wednesday, January 26          Hercules Middle High School

Thursday, January 27             Kennedy High School  

In a bit of good news, though there is no relation to adult education, Lake Elementary will remain open after all.  WCCUSD and the City of San Pablo have made an arrangement that will allow the school to stay open.  Actually, there is a small relation to adult education, in that there is an adult English as a Second Language class at Lake which serves the Lake parents.  We hope to be back at Lake next year, too.  Congratulations to the Lake community, who fought so hard to save their school.

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One Response

  1. A great synopsis of the meeting. Thank you for attending and writing this piece. Power on!

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