The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Monday, January 26, 2009

Policies Implemented Last Year and Passage of Measure W Put Davis in Good Position Relative to Neighbors

One of the constant refrains posted on the Vanguard for much of the last year, has been the consistent comparison between the Davis school situation and that of Woodland.

That refrain is typified by this question posted on September 22, 2008:
"Why were Woodland schools able to weather the storm, w[ith] no teacher layoffs, yet we were going to lay off nearly 100 teachers in Davis? That is a huge discrepancy that has not been answered satisfactorily for me."
The implication of the question was that the problems that Davis faced last spring and that necessitated Measure W were based on local problems rather than statewide revenue shortfalls.

The answer generally given to that question was that Woodland was able to survive in part on reserves and one-time money and that their problems were going to come in future years.

It is very unfortunate that those answers have largely been proven right. Davis stands in relatively good position to whether at least the first year and a half of the financial storm based in part on the passage of Measures Q and W, and a good job of managing its carryover funds.

Woodland, unfortunately, on the other hand, is facing what Davis faced last spring.

In article published on Saturday, entitled, "Deep cuts are near for WJUSD," Woodland Daily Democrat reported:
"With no solution in sight to the state's financial problems, Woodland Unified School District staff are bracing for future lost revenue by planning staff reductions and putting cost-saving measures in place."
Oh but there is more:
"But that's just one of the financial hurdles the district faces. Not only are they expecting close to $6 million in cuts in the next 18 months -- about $300 less per student -- but declining enrollment is producing a nearly $700,000 loss."
Wait a second, I could not have read this right. Did they say not only do they face, $6 million in cuts, but are facing $700,000 from declining enrollment. I thought Woodland had a lot of development recently and development helps ensure there is no declining enrollment? I thought Davis needed to develop more so that we did not suffer from declining enrollment. I am very confused.
The district must start making hard budgetary decisions even without a clear plan from the state, interim superintendent Carmella Franco said.

"The problem is that we have to have a plan to the board by February so we can't wait for the legislature," Franco said. "We know they're going to be horrible cuts but we can't wait."

Harsh cuts in personnel and teachers will need to be made by March 15 so that employees will know whether they will continue to work next year.

"We're operating with no guidance," Interim Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Paul Disario said.
Davis is in a similar situation in terms of not knowing what the budget is going to look like, but having been through this last year, Davis is now in far better shape to get by than Woodland.

Woodland is now looking to approve an Energy Saving Program--something DJUSD already has done. They are looking at an across the board reduction of all district department budgets, 10% reduction in discretionary budgets, and a 10 percent freeze in the school categorical funds. Finally they are talking about an early retirement incentive plan with about 120 eligible employees.

The bottom line is that these are tough times for education, the state is going to make deep cuts no matter whose budget plan we look at. Davis is in far better shape now as opposed to last year because of the steps already taken and because of public generosity.

---David M. Greenwald reporting