School board makes budget cuts

Teachers agree to one furlough day
By: Gloria Beverage
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The Colfax Elementary School District Board of Trustees approved more than $96,000 in cuts to the district’s budget on Monday night. Teachers, administrators and classified staff have agreed to one furlough day this school year, which will save the district nearly $13,145, Superintendent Fred Adam reported. In addition, the board agreed to cut instructional aide hours from 3.75 hours to 2.25 hours a day rather than eliminate a position or two. The decision results in a savings of $16,000. “Some teachers will still have some classroom aides and some yard duty,” noted Business Manager Joan Orban. “The teachers have already said they would take the morning recess.” Adam also pointed out that he has agreed to cut back his time on campus by two days. Costs for conferences, mileage and his life insurance were also eliminated. Other cuts are being made to stipends, maintenance, utilities, textbooks and supplies. The cuts were the first round of recommendations made by the 18-member Budget Review Committee established last month after Adam reported the district would be out of money by June. The primary factors for the shortfall are declining enrollment and state budget cutbacks, he told the board. “Currently, we are the only district (in Placer County) in the negative,” he told the board on Jan. 11. “We need to make some very significant cuts for the current year and additional cuts for 2010-11.” Committee members working under the direction of a financial advisor appointed by the Placer County Office of Education are the five school board members, Superintendent Fred Adam, Principal Anne Stone and Business Manager Joan Orban. Representing the teachers and district staff are Rich Cross, Renee Piercy, Don Elias, Lisa Preston and Joan Griffin. Also on the committee are parents/community members Bruce Nissen, Debbie Goodrich, Tracy Hall, Kate Karlberg and Jodi O’Keefe. “These reductions get us to the dollar amount we need,” Adam said. “What is important is that they are county approved. It gets us through 2009-2010.” The committee will begin discussing cuts for the 2010-2011 year at their next two meetings — at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17 in Room 21 and at 3 p.m. on Monday, March 1. In other business, Adam reported he is trying to determine why the district is paying for 13 Nextel lines, which are apparently set up for cell phone access. “I’m trying to backtrack and find the devices,” he said. “We need to figure out a way to do something other than use them for cell phones. That’s a $250 a month waste of money. Hopefully, by the end of the month we won’t be paying them any more.” Board member Carmen Armstrong suggested a cap be placed on the discretionary funds the superintendent can approve without board approval. Adam agreed to bring a resolution spelling out the dollar amount to the board for their approval. Principal Anne Stone indicated the “division of labor” between the Superintendent and Principal has been falling into place quite easily. “I handle everything I can as it walks in the door,” she said. “When I have a question about how I think it will affect the district staff or policies, I feel free to contact Fred. He’s been very accessible to me.” There was also some discussion about the cost of the upcoming Science Camp as well as the need for adult supervision. Since the fee has doubled, there is concern some parents may not be able to afford the cost. Adam suggested asking the APT if they could host some fundraisers to help pay the cost.