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21 could lose jobs at YUSD
[March 05, 2009]

21 could lose jobs at YUSD

(Sierra Star Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mar. 5--The Yosemite Unified School District Board of Trustees approved a motion at a meeting Monday night to move forward with as many as 21 teacher layoffs to close the widening budget gap. The meeting drew another large crowd waiting for information about job losses and class-size increases.

This year's shortfall is now estimated to total $780,000 and next year's will likely close in on $2.5 million.

Final notices for layoffs will be given to teachers Friday, March 13 -- the last business day in order to meet their notification deadline, but a grim coincidence.

Chief financial officer Srini Vasan reported the latest figures for the second interim budget, which will be submitted to the county's office of education. Vasan walked those in attendance through a presentation and explanation of the district's nearly $22 million budget.

Clip art attached to the slides of crying cartoon faces underscored the severity of the district's financial situation.

Several other issues came before the board and the financial crisis tempered each.

In Brief -- Mountain Home Charter School Mountain Home Charter School requested to come under the district, but the school board moved to delay any motion until the April meeting, giving them time for further review.

"This move would not be a negative impact on the district at all," principal Michael Cox assured the five trustees.

Parcel tax A study to determine the feasibility of a tax on land parcels in the districts was discussed. The tax would cost taxpayers $35 or more per parcel and several questioned whether voters would be in favor of any tax increases.

"I'm a no tax guy," said Greg Schoonard, expressing his disapproval. The board moved to hold off on a feasibility study, estimated to cost $12,000, until next year.

Budget committee The school board approved the formation of a 20-member committee of parents, teachers and other employees to discuss ideas for saving money. Christine Wilder expressed her support. "We have so much interest in the budget right now, let's make the process transparent," she said.

Drug testing The school board also gave approval to Athletic Director Tammy Thacker to seek funding to implement drug testing for student athletes. "I feel strongly about this and all my coaches are in support," she said. The program will be presented to the board in May for approval and implementation will take place in the fall.

Golden handshake The possibility of offering "golden handshakes is being explored, an action that could prevent layoffs. A golden handshake essentially offers a buy-out to teachers close to retirement, allowing the district to reduce the number of higher-level salaries.

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Copyright (c) 2009, Sierra Star, Oakhurst, Calif.

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