Davis Schools Foundation Pushes to Save Half the Teaching Job Slated for Layoffs

schoolscat.png by Karen Adams –

If the Davis Schools Foundation raises another $200,000 in seven days, the school district can restore about 45 of 88 staff positions initially slashed from next year’s budget, foundation leaders announced at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Robert Woolley, DSF president, said the community has donated $1.2 million in the current Dollar-a-Day campaign. Combining it with $1.1 million in salary savings from eliminating five days in next year’s school calendar, the district will have just over $2.3 million to boost its budget.
Woolley unveiled an updated fundraising thermometer chart developed with district officials. It delineates the 43 positions that will be lost even with another $200,000 in gifts, but also shows that $2.5 million can provide:

15 teachers to reduce kindergarten-third grade class size from 30 students to 25 12.2 secondary teachers, enough to preserve a seventh period for seventh graders, reduce class sizes in 9th-10th grade English and 9th grade math, and retain selected courses in English, math, science and social sciences.

6.4 counselors for junior high and high school, one employee for Davis High’s Center and a half-time vice principal at DHS.

6 secretaries, noon-duty staff, two campus security officers and four other non-teaching staff.

“Due to the support given by the staff and community of Davis, our budget situation for DJUSD is equipped to handle the uncertainties of state funding from Sacramento,” said Superintendent James Hammond before the meeting.

“Thanks to DSF’s $1.2 million and the generosity of our district staff to reduce their salaries and work year, this fine community has again made a value statement about how important our children are to the city of Davis,” he added. “Everyone is to be commended for working together toward a common goal — providing the best educational experience to all of our children.”

All that work doesn’t fully eliminate the district’s $5.6 million budget gap. Even assuming DSF reaches $1.4 million in donations, the district will have to cut about 40 teaching positions and miscellaneous educational services, including summer school enrichment classes and Adult School offerings, said Bruce Colby, associate superintendent and the district’s chief business official, in a meeting with DSF leaders.

“The recently announced retirement of about 51 teachers doesn’t affect the budget situation,”  he said. “The number of positions on the cutback list remains the same, but the retirements do allow less senior staff members to fill the remaining posts. The reduced payroll costs from the district’s early retirement offering only covers the cost of the teacher retiree incentives.

“In all likelihood, we’ll still be eliminating almost 45 positions,” Colby said. “But we anticipate having to make very few actual teacher layoffs, provided the noticed employees’ credentials match up with the positions we have available after the retirements.”

But there’s work yet to be done to hold the cutbacks to 45 positions, Woolley cautioned. A final surge of fundraising will focus on raising $200,000 or more, with a final opportunity to give at DSF’s booth at Celebrate Davis from 4-9 p.m. Thursday.

Four matching grants are on the table from an anonymous donor, Mohini Jain, Nugget Markets and Symphony Financial Planning. If fully met, that will bring in $41,500. Hanlees Auto Group has pledged to donate $10,000, and several major gifts under that amount are anticipated.

“The rest is up to the community,” Woolley said. “People are realizing the very real difference this is going to make in our schools next year, but we can’t all let someone else donate the final dollars. Each of us needs to ask ourselves whether we can dig a little deeper, give a bit more.

“Of course, the best thing for our schools would be to restore the whole list – the loss of 40 teaching positions and several support staff is huge,” he said. “An outpouring of support now would allow us to keep our level of educational programs intact until we have a more lasting solutions to our budget problems.”

Foundation leaders will be the Farmers Market on Saturday and Wednesday to take cash, checks and credit card donation. Shoppers can make donations at Nugget Market check stands. School site collection will continue until Thursday afternoon, and secure donations can be made anytime at http://www.davisschoolsfoundation.org.

Also, two fundraising events are planned: The DHS Honors Orchestra and the Hanneke Lohse’s ballet troupe are collaborating to raise funds during concerts this weekend, and Round Table Pizza will donate a portion of sales Monday night. Details of both are available on DSF’s website.

Dollar-a-Day donors will also have the opportunity to give more at a thank-you reception Tuesday at the Hanlees Nissan dealership, 5009 Chiles Road. The first 200 donors to arrive at 7 p.m. will be admitted (age 21 and up only) and given the opportunity to win a raffle for a one-year lease on a new Toyota Prius or Nissan Cube.

Once fundraising is finished, DSF leaders will work with district officials on a contract spelling out how the community donations will be spent. School board members will be presented with the agreement for a vote at their May 20 meeting.

“Let’s make this final $200,000 happen, and then – who knows? We may go even higher,” said Maria Ungermann, DSF vice president. “What seemed overwhelming at first – the thought of making a dent in a $5.6 million budget gap – no longer need intimidate us. Together, we can achieve great things.”

For more information about the foundation, visit http://www.davisschoolsfoundation.org or call Woolley at 758-8111.

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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  1. E Roberts Musser

    What I like about this campaign is it is completely voluntary, and the money goes for what it is intended – saving teaching positions. It is in effect a voluntary tax to save teachers. Those who can afford to pay and want to, will step up to the plate to ensure our schools are the best they can be in a tough economic climate. And thanks to the local businesses that have seen fit to donate heavily to this campaign – it generates a lot of good will in the community.

  2. wdf1

    Thanks, DSF, for doing this. Efforts like this go very far in stabilizing the education system in Davis and, by extension, the housing market.

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