District Does What It Has No Choice To Do – Approves Layoff Notices

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schoolscat.pngWe knew it was going to happen – does that make it any less painful?  That is perhaps the question of the night for the school board.  Not only that, but they have gone through this exercise the last three years, so they ought to be well steeped in the nuances of how to do it.

There will be time for Hail Mary passes later both in the context of a parcel tax and perhaps some voluntary fundraising by the Davis Schools Foundation.  But the bottom line for last night was this was simply inevitable and the part of their fiduciary duties that not one of the board members signed on to or particularly enjoys.

So there we have it, the school district will notice more than 120 employees of possible layoffs.

The night of course did not end without some last second appeals and finger-pointing.

The finger pointing came from Board member Richard Harris.  He pointed out that teacher concessions which are coming, are coming too late to avoid added angst.  The inability to agree to concessions earlier mean an additional 20 teachers will be noticed of possible layoffs.  Those layoffs will be rescinded between March 15 and May 15 when all arrangements are final, but the bottom line is that we are seeing 20% more teachers and employees overall given notices.  This will produce added community angst and could cost the district valuable personnel.

The other part of what happened is that a lot of the cuts focus on vocational education programs and while looking at the absolute numbers it does not appear to be that many, in terms of the size of the program it is enough that it will be decimated.

The problem of course is that you have to cut something and it is not as though English, Math, Science, and Social Science are not facing huge cuts as well.  Those programs are facing a total 15 position cuts, throw in three more for Spanish and you see a huge chunk of the secondary cuts.

The other devastating cuts are to the secondary counseling services that are losing the equivalent of seven full-time positions.  That number represents about half of counseling positions at the secondary level that would be eliminated.

Is this a position that we can do without?  It depends on what one means by do without, I suppose.  Counselors are often on the front-lines preventing problems with students at their most vulnerable and volatile age.  They deal with issues of bullying, violence, and suicide prevention among more mundane functions.  We have certainly seen in society in the years following the Columbine tragedy and the Virginia Tech tragedy the need for more proactive counselors and intervention.

So while I am not suggesting this will bring about that magnitude of a problem, it is important to recognize that counselors can perform a vital function that is not merely theoretical.  One source we have seen suggests that the American School Counseling Association recommends a student-to-counselor ration of 250 to 1.  These cuts would drop the district’s ratio to 565 to 1 which is below the current national average of 475 to 1.

What people need to remember is that during tough times, we can make do with fewer resources for sure.  The average person will be just fine with a smaller number of counselors, just as the average student is probably okay in a classroom with 34 students rather than 28 or 24.  The same goes with County Health Services, the average person who has health insurance will survive alright without those services.  However, the vulnerable students who need to the extra attention, the extra care, those in society without medical coverage, will be impacted and these cuts will have devastating impact.

I truly believe that schools in Davis will be largely okay after these cuts for the average student.  It is those students who vulnerable that I fear for.

Someone yesterday posted and complained about the state of education as it is, imagine that education system with fewer resources and teachers to handle the kinds of problems we ask them to handle.

That we have little choice does not mean we should not worry about the impact of these cuts.

Correction

Yesterday we reported on an idea that originated with Michael Hulsizer about the parcel tax.  We reported that it would involve a loan that would be repaid to the taxpayers once new monies became available.  We will put the blame firmly on Richard Harris and the Davis Enterprise for our errors despite the fact that the text of the Op-ed never mentioned anything about the loan.

The idea of this being a “loan” came from Richard Harris’ misinterpretation of Mr. Hulsizer’s idea at the last school board meeting. 

Unfortunately I repeated this misinterpretation despite evidence to the contrary.

The proposal then is to expand the parcel tax to $600 as a stop-gap tax measure and put into an automatic deflator that provides for its reduction and elimination when the current IOUs are repaid.  The tax payment reduction and sunset would be included in the measure to give certainty to the voters that the tax is temporary.

The district is in the process now of polling the public to see the mood.

I will reiterate my position that I have stated many times, if we want to find new sources of revenue we need to off-set them with decreases in taxes from other sources.

I am very concerned that this is what the voters are looking at this year:

First, a renewal of the sales tax in June.

Second, a parcel tax measure in November.

Third, an 18% increase in water rates that will take place at some point in the next year.

The fact that the city wants to increase the cost to basic services, renew their existing tax, and continue to pay the employees roughly the same amount as they have, is concerning to say the least.

The school district obviously does not want to get into a fight with the city over resources, and I hope that revenue sharing ideas are brought forward.  In my view, it is a crime that we pay teachers nearly half of what we pay firefighters.

We need a community discussion on what the spending priorities ought to be.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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24 thoughts on “District Does What It Has No Choice To Do – Approves Layoff Notices”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    “The proposal then is to expand the parcel tax to $600 as a stop-gap tax measure and put into an automatic deflator that provides for its reduction and elimination when the current IOUs are repaid.”

    Don’t you mean “if” the current IOUs are repaid. With the current economic climate being what it is, there is no guarantee the state will repay anything…

  2. David M. Greenwald

    “With the current economic climate being what it is”

    Obviously it won’t be repaid while the economy is what it is – but do you expect that at some point things will improve? I think they will, but it may take some time.

  3. wesley506

    Teachers are paid the salary they are because that is the amount that is sufficient enough to attract the necessary number of qualifed applicants. Comparing teacherss to firefighters is comparing comparing apples and oranges. Show me a person in any occupation/profession who really feels they are grossly overpaid for what they do.

    Does anybody really think that 3-4 years down the road the state is going pay back all of the funds that are owed to the district? Do you really think that in 3-4 years the district will decide they no longer need this 5-6 million, and will do without it?

  4. Frankly

    Obviously it won’t be repaid while the economy is what it is – but do you expect that at some point things will improve? I think they will, but it may take some time.

    I can’t find a single example of taxes being repaid except at the Federal level under Republican administrations. I also remember how the left howled about this (still does). Even Obama – having been paid back much of the TARP money – wants to spend it on additional stimulus instead of paying down debt. Frankly, I will never trust any left-leaning government to ever give up spending everything that can be spent and more. And I only give right-leaning government a marginally better chance of returning what is promised.

    The reliance on the economy improving is a dicey proposition. China is starting to roll back their appetite for cheap dollars. The fed will need to start raising rates to find enough buyers of our government debt instruments; forcing banks to raise rates. Exports will start taking a hit as Euro and other foreign currencies madly flux with the dollar. Conflicts with Iran can cause oil prices to spike again. The next inevitable terrorist attack on American soil will jolt economic activity. House prices will continue to be deflated for years due to the over-supply of properties and changed bank lending practices. When you consider all of these things, and the fact that our last boom cycle was largely over-inflated and artificial, we should be working on changes that plan for continued lower tax revenue… not holding out hope that it will soon return to previous levels.

  5. indigorocks

    I don’t understand, what happened to all the stimulus money? Oh wait a minute, it’s a one time payment. After that one time payment, there are still years of pensions, medical benefits and salaries to be paid for.
    Unless we really do something to solve this fiscal crisis, unless the unions step in and make broad concession, we’re going to continue this downward spiral.
    Raise taxes for the rich is a great idea, but unpopular. Taking a paycut is a great idea, but unpopular. The poor and middle class have already paid their fair share. The poor have had vital services cut, the middle class are being squeezed out and simply cannot pay any more taxes.

    We need some leaders to step up and raise taxes for the wealthy, and ensure that local govts. bargain with unions with the public interest in mind.
    After all, it’s the tax payer’s money right?

  6. Frankly

    We need some leaders to step up and raise taxes for the wealthy

    Yeah, so we can become just like New Jersey or Greece. Not a good idea. We have a spending problem. The spending is all the personnel costs for all the government employees working in all the government programs and agencies. The poor don’t pay taxes. The middle class pay too many taxes, and the wealthy will only take it out on both if we raise their taxes more. Despite the rhetoric of the left, the wealthy (business owners) in this country are already one of the highest taxed in the world.

    Our problem is government trying to do too much. We need to cut back to what we can afford. It is as simple as that.

    http://wcbstv.com/video/?id=138665@wcbs.dayport.com

  7. Frankly

    China is starting to roll back their appetite for cheap dollars.

    I should have written “China is starting to roll back their appetite for expensive dollars.”

    Treasuries and government bonds that are low yield.

  8. wdf1

    A response in previous DJUSD article ([url]https://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3250:district-formalizes-position-cut-list-as-community-seeks-alternative-funding-means&catid=68:budgettaxes&Itemid=119[/url]) by indigorocks to evidence that DJUSD students are performing well, generally saying that STAR test results are manipulated by keeping low-performing students from taking the test:

    So wdf1, thanks for your input, but it’s clearly skewed and lacking in substance. You fail to acknowledge the deeper and hidden forces at work within the DJUSD. Your posted ranking is impressive, but in the words of the great Winston Churchill. “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.”

    We can manipulated the numbers any which way we please to satisfy our theories.

    Or was it Mark Twain who said that? or Benjamin Disraeli? Oh, hell. Anyway it had to have been someone wise and famous —

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damn_lies,_and_statistics[/url]

    — or not.

    With a response like this, you excuse yourself from presenting or acknowledging any quantitative information by claiming that it is probably manipulated anyway. Then all we are left with is trading anecdotes.

    Unfortunately, we live in a data-driven society, for better or for worse, so your arguments would have wider credibility if you presented “statistics”.

    A couple of years ago, DHS was in danger of sanctions because not enough of their students were taking the STAR test. That’s because apparently a number of students were excused from taking the test by their parents who wanted them to focus on upcoming AP and SAT tests. There was no personal benefit to the students to take the STAR test.

    I think ~95% of students are expected to take the STAR test (in all demographic subgroups) for results to be considered valid and acceptable. There are some parents who choose to exempt their kids from taking the test, for whatever reason, and I suppose that’s their right.

  9. wdf1

    It has been widely presumed that the extra funding that residents give to the Davis schools adds value to Davis homes. That means that if a homeowner gets to the point where he/she can’t pay the mortgage, then it is still possible, in reasonable circumstances, to sell the home and recover the money and possibly have a little extra money.

    If Davis schools are not adequately funded, then it would seem logical to assume that local housing values would decline more. Then we could get to the point where more homeowners are potentially in upside down mortgages.

    I remember a blog comment from a year or two ago that asked Davis voters to not pass any more taxes (sales or parcel) so that Davis would become a less desirable place to live and then housing values would become more affordable.

  10. rusty49

    wdf:

    One could just as easily say we could get to the point where our real estate taxes get too high to the point where it devalues resale prices because potential buyers don’t want to take on that much school tax burden.

  11. wdf1

    One could just as easily say we could get to the point where our real estate taxes get too high to the point where it devalues resale prices because potential buyers don’t want to take on that much school tax burden.

    I acknowledge that possibility. But do you think we are at that point yet? If I hear local real estate agents caution against passing school parcel taxes, then I would take that point of view seriously. If anything, real estate agents have generally endorsed all past parcel taxes.

    Quality of schools and safety (including crime rate) are huge determinants for families choosing where to live and whether to spend the extra money.

  12. indigorocks

    “The poor don’t pay taxes. The middle class pay too many taxes, and the wealthy will only take it out on both if we raise their taxes more. Despite the rhetoric of the left, the wealthy (business owners) in this country are already one of the highest taxed in the world.”

    Oh really Jeff? The poor don’t pay any taxes? They pay incomes taxes and if they don’t have income, they buy things..it’s called SALES TAX. Don’t forget all the court costs, dmv fees, etc etc etc. They pay taxes..regressively.
    The rich pay a smaller percentaage of their income on taxes. We’re talking 1-2% of their income. That’s why there are so many uber rich people in this country. They don’t pay their fair share. They draw on social security and they don’t nearly pay as much respectively as the middle class do. If you make more than 100k (I think) you don’t have to pay more taxes towards social security based on your income. This is a huge disparity and injustice.
    So Jeff, if you’re still interested in paying more taxes than the billionaire next door, then by all means, advocate for the rights of the poor little rich folks who continue to fool you and and all the rest who advocate for the rich man’s right to pay 1% of his income towards taxes.

    If rich ppl were so bad off and drowning in taxes, they wouldn’t be living in their fabulous 100 million dollar mansions, 100 million dollar yachts, vacation cottages, and million dollar bras.
    GET REAL JEFF!!!! IT”S TIME FOR THE RICH TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES!

  13. indigorocks

    is it fair that some poor sod, who makes 40k/ year, has to pay 20% of his income towards taxes, yet Goldman Sachs got away with paying only 1% of it’s billions towards taxes.
    There are so many loopholes for the rich. It’s time to close that loophole. They got their bailout from the feds. They got their millions in bonuses, and they got their huge tax credits.

    seriously, can’t you see the correlation between Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and the slow degradation of local and state governments?
    This is part of the illuminati’s plan to completely take away the rights of the ppl, by starving governments out, and taking away authority of the govt. to regulate their bad and illegal behaviors.

    they hate big govt. when it intrudes in their thievery corporation style tactics, yet they have NO PROBLEM taking big govts. money in the form of bailouts and tax credits.

    They get to live large and threaten retribution against the ppl of America, if we dare raise their taxes. So once again, their ideology clearly has a death grip. it has successfully capitalized on the fears of American ppl. Wake up ppl. They’re just filling you with false ideology so they can continue to get rich, while you’re stuck with your low paying job. You won’t even know if you’ll have it in a few years.

    More than likely, they’re fire your ass when the next “recession” comes, and hire someone new and young for 1/2 your pay. Hey they’ll just go overseas, and outsource your job. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a couple months of unemployment, because by then, they will have successfully ravaged and dismantled all social service programs. The justification of which will be to satisfy their need to get rid of “big government” and get another tax credit.
    And it will be at your expense, my expense, and your kids.

    So, if you want this continue, then go right ahead, and vote republican, vote for smaller govt., vote to screw you and everyone else over. I hope your policies will come right around to bite you so you can see the effects of your “small” govt. ideologies.

  14. indigorocks

    I think Obama should institute a clear policy.
    If you don’t want big govt, and you don’t want to pay taxes, then you will not be allowed to drive on the streets, send you kids to public school, get medicaid when you’re old and sick, you should not be allowed to get social security. All your mail should be via private carriers.
    If you get assaulted, do not call the police to come and help you, if you don’t want illegal immigrants, don’t call INS and ICE, if you want protection from foreign assaults, you will not be given protection…
    if you’re big bank and are republican, and you want a bailout, you will be denied a bail out because you do not believe in big government and you wanted a tax credit.

    are there any more govt. services that republicans hate so much….so basically, if you hate the govt. soooo much, don’t pay taxes, and don’t use our services, and LEAVE America.
    It’s not like you’re doing us any favors any way.
    You claim that if you have to pay taxes, the economy will fall and there will be no jobs.
    Well MR. Republican, we all know this is a lie. You’ll bribe Arnold and Dan Lundgren for your tax credits, hire an illegal alien for a few weeks and outsource the job to India. Whatever American workers will be left, will be paid minimum wage, and you’ll be sure to get another tax credit from the Big govt. that you hate so much, to hire an American citizen.
    WOW!! Thanks for nothing mr. republican.
    Truth is mr and mrs. republican, we’ve figured it out…we don’t need you, YOU NEED US!!!
    So go to your private tax free, homophobic, racists, exploitative, hateful island..please LEAVE!!!

  15. indigorocks

    I think ~95% of students are expected to take the STAR test (in all demographic subgroups) for results to be considered valid and acceptable. There are some parents who choose to exempt their kids from taking the test, for whatever reason, and I suppose that’s their right.

    WDF1 – yes i’m sure you googled the quote. Winston Churchill said it too….there are lies damned lies and then there are statistics. The administrators routinely lie about numbers. It’s a fact. I will not bring up names of ppl that have had to go through principles coming up to the parents and gently prodding them to abstain from taking the STAR test.

    This is a fact. They won’t admit to it..but I know personally about it from the testimony of other mothers in DJUSD..I’m sure ppl have exempted their kids from taking the test, but I do know too, that others were either urged not to take it, or just plainly excluded from taking the tests.

    Your darling administrators could never admit to this dirty little fact, because that wouldn’t look good would it? It’s a fact, teachers and administrators in school routinely lie. The system requires it. They lie and defame the characters of students to hide their own wrong doings. They lie on paper and they lie to your face.
    Sorry wdf1, perhaps you need to go out into the community and actually speak to ppl and find out the truth!!!!
    I know you want to stand up for your beloved school district, as I’m sure you’ve been served very well by it, but remember, for every one of you, there are 5 underserved students behind you.
    It’s a FACT dahhling and no matter how hard you, the administrators, or teachers try to cover it up, it’s the truth, and is being investigated as we speak.
    Instead of seeking answers from the administrators, we’re going straight to the source..the students and families of “failure” kids.

  16. indigorocks

    Jeff Boone,
    Oh yes, incidentally, in Greece, the rich are also pretty much exempt from paying taxes. This is the real reason why they are struggling.

    I proposed a balance of cutting outrageous govt. union pensions and salary increases, but we have to also make sure the rich start paying back to America what they stole from us during the wonderful glorious Bush years.

    Well Jeff, let’s look at cause and effect. They got their tax credit. They said it would be good for America. They said they would hire American citizens.
    Tell me Jeff, what good did the tax credits do for America? Nothing. Please be logical about this. They lied. They promised jobs. Instead they spent their money on lavish vacation homes, and fired American workers for cheaper labour elsewhere.
    They got illegal immigrants to do the cheap work over here, and outsourced “technical support”.

    Admit it!! The tax credits for the rich in America, did ABSOLUTELY fockall for us…we’re in a worse position than before.
    Well actually, the rich are doing just fine. The rest are screwed.
    I’m sure you already have your millions Jeff or perhaps you have a great secure well paying job. But what about the rest of us?
    Are you willing to sacrifice millions just so you can live higher on the hog?
    Now you want US to pay for the roads that you drive on so you can go to your country club and play golf, and drive back, and know that the police are protecting you?
    It’s at our expense, and I just can’t find it in my heart, to pay for your vacation cottage in bah habour….
    pay your fair share and we’ll cut the union dues.
    Deal? deal!! Good.
    Let’s go!

  17. Frankly

    Quality of schools and safety (including crime rate) are huge determinants for families choosing where to live and whether to spend the extra money.

    wdf1: Davis is experiencing quite a demographic shift to older folk and away from families with children. Related to this, I understand that part of the School funding problems are resulting from lower numbers of students. Also, consider the complaints over the noise from the Montessori pre-school… I think this is an indication that we are not as family-oriented as we would like to believe. Lastly, we need to consider that all CA cities are experiencing what Davis is experiencing, and if funding problems cause a relative decline in school quality then Davis is likely to continue perform better relative to the rest.

    My point is that I don’t see a decline in school funding as having too much of an impact in Davis property values. However, I do see a lack of school improvement as being responsible for a decline in our nation’s future security and prosperity.

  18. Frankly

    Indigorocks: I get your worldview, and it appears to be 180 degrees opposite of mine. I just don’t see where the Constitution requires that government is required to redistribute wealth from the more prosperous to the less prosperous. I thought the design of the country was to provide all the freedoms so that each individual had the same opportunities to seek their own prosperity… however they chose to define it. No problemo’ though… we are all entitled to our own opinions. However, I don’t think you should ignore so much history and facts because the truth can set you free.

    One point on Greece though, Greece has one the highest tax rates in the world (including the wealthy). A big problem for Greece is the existence of a very large shadow economy where more middle class people conduct business for cash or bartering to escape from having to pay such high tax rates. That little fact is indicative of a big problem when taxes get too high… people start finding loopholes to conduct business in the shadows. A democratic government has a very hard time successfully policing this. However, China does a pretty good job because they tend to execute tax evaders. I suppose you might like the Chinese system based on your comments.

    Question: is “Indiorocks” indicative that you are a fan of the Indigo Girls, or that you used to live in Indio CA?

  19. wdf1

    indigorocks: It’s a FACT dahhling and no matter how hard you, the administrators, or teachers try to cover it up, it’s the truth, and is being investigated as we speak.
    Instead of seeking answers from the administrators, we’re going straight to the source..the students and families of “failure” kids.

    The structure of your argument so far is that you can’t trust facts either because it’s quantitative info (“statistics”) that is somehow manipulated, or because no matter how hard I look, I’m not going to see the other side because it’s hidden from me, no matter where I may look.

    I would very much like to see this investigation. When will it be released?

  20. wdf1

    JB: Davis is experiencing quite a demographic shift to older folk and away from families with children. Related to this, I understand that part of the School funding problems are resulting from lower numbers of students.

    In 2002-03 (a peak year of enrollment), DJUSD reported having 8,827 students. In 2008-09 they reported 8,573. This from

    [url]http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/[/url]

    I think this represents the passage of the “echo-boom” generation (kids of the baby boom) through the schools. It has been happening for most districts in the state, but the decline for DJUSD hasn’t been as dramatic.

    It was reported in the most recent school board meeting that the state rate of funding to DJUSD has declined on a per student basis by about $1000 in the past couple of years. Funds lost to declining enrollment over that period of time is relatively minor by comparison.

  21. wdf1

    Interview today on KXPR’s Insight with Delaine Eastin, former State Superintendent of Public Schools, on a potential state ballot measure to lower the threshold for parcel taxes from two thirds to 55%. Also discusses other political and education issues:

    [url]http://www.capradio.org/resources/audioplayer.aspx?showid=7506&bhcp=1[/url]

  22. Frankly

    It has been happening for most districts in the state, but the decline for DJUSD hasn’t been as dramatic

    wdf1: What I have heard from some teachers is that there are more significant drops in the numbers of younger students. Your quoted figures represent only a .03% decline… not enough to get excited about.

    I have also heard from local realtors that fewer houses are being sold to families with young children. Now, I suppose they could all be renting, but I doubt it.

    Again, a .03% drop doesn’t seem to jibe with these things I have heard. Are teachers and realtors exaggerating?

  23. wdf1

    Are teachers and realtors exaggerating?

    What has been observed in the enrollment data (you could compile several years and cohorts in the ed-data site stats above and see this) is that generally a grade cohort picks up enrollment year after year. Families are moving to Davis later than was apparently the case before. Apparently that’s the effect of the rise in home prices in Davis in the housing boom.

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