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Thursday, March 06, 2008

NEWS AND COMMENTARY: Valley Oak Charter School Appeal on the Agenda For Tonight And Continuing Budget Crisis At DJUSD

Valley Oak Charter School Hearing

Tonight the Yolo County Office of Education has scheduled a public hearing to receive comment regarding the Valley Oak Charter School petition appeals. The public hearing will be held at the Yolo County Office of Education Conference Center, 1280 Santa Anita Court, Suite 120, Woodland, CA. The hearing will begin at 4:45 p.m.

The purpose of the meeting will be to receive comment from parents, teachers, members of the community, and bargaining unit leaders regarding two Valley Oak Charter School petition appeals.

Our sources suggest that it is unlikely that the Yolo County Board of Education will vote to approve the charter, but this is a necessary step that must be taken. If the County Board of Education rejects the charter it could be appealed to the State Department of Education where it will receive its possible chance for approval.

School Budget Cuts

One of the things we talked about on the radio last night is that the school district just built two new elementary schools and a junior high. So now enrollment declines and the budget is in disarray, what does the school district do? They have already closed down Valley Oak Elementary School and now are talking about closing down Emerson Junior High just a few years after opening Harper Junior High.

Meantime, it appears that each school board member has a particular program that they do not want to cut and for each one it is different. As a non-school board member there are a whole host of things I don't want to cut.

Richard Harris ran on being the budget cutting guru, but somehow, I'm guessing he never thought he would be in the position to have to cut the number of librarians. For Gina Daleiden it is foreign language. For Sheila Allen it is elementary school music. For Susan Lovenburg, she is still willing to keep everything on the table. I cannot really disagree with anyone here. Cutting is a horrible thing to have to do, but then again, you have to cut something you do not want when you have such a huge deficit.

The part that has to give everyone chills comes right out of Jeff Hudson's Davis Enterprise article:
"But despite the lengthy discussion, the board got only a little bit closer to identifying the $4 million in budget reductions needed to keep the Davis school district's financial reserves from diminishing to the point that the Yolo County Office of Education would be forced to step in and take control of the Davis district's financial affairs. That grim fact could become reality as soon as mid-March.

Two top administrators from the county office - Yolo County Superintendent Jorge Ayala and Associate Superintendent Linda Legnitto - stayed up with the Davis trustees until 11:30 p.m., their physical presence reminding trustees of the gravity of the district's perilous financial situation. "
Actually I have to say it is refreshing that Mr. Hudson would print this because it is in fact an unsaid truth that hangs over everyone. The word I have had for quite some time is that the County Office of Education is watching DJUSD very closely.

While I think the previous board did a decent job cleaning up a financial mess left behind by the previous regime, one aspect still looms, nearly half of the cuts are due to the fact that one-time monies were used for a period of time to fund on-going projects. When those monies began to shrink and vanish, the school district depleted the financial reserves that are not mandatory.

In other words, there are 3 percent reserves that cannot be touched without serious consequence, and then there is a district imposed level, those got eaten away. Had they still been intact, the district could kind of soft land this thing for a year or two until things stabilized. Not so now. And while I still think the district should have kept Valley Oak open for a variety of reasons, you can see why the County probably will not.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting