District approves $10M in cuts

The Ocean View School District has approved furlough days and other reductions to help make a $10-million cut needed for next year, but officials are unsure where $4.5 million of it will come from.

The district's board of trustees, which oversees two preschools, 11 elementary and four middle schools, approved its 2010-11 budget June 15 with $5.5 million in set reductions and another $4.5 million cut without

specification of what will get the ax.

Eight furlough days were approved, classified staff's automatic pay increases were frozen, and some bus routes were consolidated to help make up the

$5.5-million cut, said board Clerk Debbie Cotton.

The furlough days took away the last two days of school this year and will do the same next year, Cotton said.

Students will also lose a day in the middle of the school year. The other furlough days are not school days and won't affect students, Cotton said.

Stipends were also cut off, which will impact after-school sports programs, but the board is looking into alternative funding, she said. The remaining cuts are expected to be finalized in the fall.

The board is waiting to get

input from two advisory committees made up of its constituents before it decides, Cotton said.

"We can't just make the decision in a vacuum," she said. "We have to reach out."

The current budget is based on projections and the May Revise of the governor's proposed budget, but it could change at any time.

The board approved a resolution reserving its right to reduce employee pay or benefits next year if the cuts deepen.

"The entire budget is one huge moving target because the state income numbers are not known," said Trustee John Briscoe, adding later, "It's a very desperate cauldron we're working in."

In the classroom, teachers are down to unplugging appliances and turning off lights, but they will make the reductions work, said Mesa View Middle School Principal Leona Olson.

Although Olson is confident the instruction will stay at a high level, she said the cuts are still impacting students. The furlough days are instructional time students will never get back, and extracurricular activities are what connects some students to school, Olson said.

"It's devastating. Our most precious resources in the world is our children, and they are the ones being hurt," she said.

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