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School Board Asks Employees For Concessions

— A plan drawn up by board president Richard Barrera and trustee Scott Barnett would postpone some salary increases scheduled for 2012, shorten the school calendar for three more years and impose a health care fee for retirees.

Those changes would allow the board to use up $32 million in additional state funding coming to the district under the governor's recent revision of his proposed budget for the state to recall some of the layoff notices for more than 750 teachers and more than 1,500 non-teaching staff.

Asking employees to forgo raises and not saving for the future to reduce future deficits were tough choices, Barrera said.

“The people who I respect most in this district who are doing the job of educating our kids every day – it’s hard personally and it’s hard politically for me to ask them to make another sacrifice. I know it’s hard personally and politically for Scott to take some risks about the future fiscal solvency of this district,” he said, while calling on Sacramento legislators to make their own hard choices. Presumably by supporting tax extensions to balance the state's budget.

The plan was part of a motion brought by Barnett which directs district staff to request the opening of contract negotiations with the district's employee unions and to draft an alternate budget for the coming year, as well as projections for the following years based on the plan he and Barrera developed.

But minutes after the board passed the motion 4 to 1, Bill Freeman, the teachers union president, said teachers have sacrificed enough already.

“I don’t plan on opening the contract. You know, it seems that we’re going to have to sit down with them and talk to them – we don’t want the teachers to lose their jobs. But we also don’t want the teachers not to be able to make their mortgage payment.”

The board’s proposal also calls for exploring school consolidation, the elimination of non-mandatory student transportation and ways to generate more revenue locally.

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