The current financial crisis is just not limited to City Hall. The San Carlos School District is facing its own financial crisis. In a memo released from Superintendent Craig Baker, the SCSD and the SCTA (San Carlos Teacher’s Association) had been meeting over the last few months to try and reach an agreement over current labor contracts with an emphasis on the 2010-2011 school year. Unfortunately, those meetings were not encouraging and the SCSD filed paperwork with the State of California indicating that the two parties were at an impasse.
The SCSD has been pounded by relentless, mandatory cuts by the State of California. In June of 2009, the SCSD had expected a $700,000 budget shortfall for the 2010-2011 school year, however, due to the latest budget proposal by the governor the budget for the 2010-2011 school year will actually need to be trimmed by $2,800,000. The SCSD has already eliminated five administrative positions. Other budget cutting possibilities are reducing elementary music classes, library support, reducing the hours of some vice-principals and many others. Even after the reduction in staff and reducing or eliminating certain programs, the budget will still be $1,200,000 short of being balanced. To make up this difference, the SCSD is focusing on reducing compensation in a variety of ways. Just some of these reductions to be examined by the SCSD center around salary, furloughs, and the elimination or reductions of certain positions. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why the SCSD and SCTA are at an impasse.
The SCSD offered a 7% reduction in total costs/compensation across the board to the SCTA. This reduction was possible in a number ways including a reduction in salaries, furloughs, freeze on step raises and elimination of certain positions. The SCTA rejected this proposal and did not want want to take on any reduction whatsoever. Given the two positions, the SCSD filed the paperwork with the State which is required when the two sides have reached an impasse.
The filing is a requirement for the State to take the next legal step of providing a mediator who will try and bring the two sides to a mutually agreeable contract. If the mediator is unable to bring the two parties to an agreement, the State will provide a Fact Finder. The Fact Finder seems to provide a service similar to non-binding arbitration. The Fact Finder will hear from both sides and gather the applicable information and give his or her findings to the San Carlos School Board. That recommendation is not binding. The SCSD will need to file a budget by June 30, 2010, so the process should heat up over the next few months.
I realize that for many it is difficult to believe San Carlos schools are in such financial turmoil given the value of our properties, parcel taxes and the herculean efforts of the San Carlos Educational Foundation. Unfortunately, the budget disaster is more of a reflection of the failings of the State of California. Clearly, you have two respected groups doing the best they can under an impossible set of circumstances. The San Carlos Blog will continue to keep you up to date on this issue.