Trustees OK budget cuts at marathon ASJUSD meeting

For the second month in a row, the Aromas-San Juan Unified
School District Board of Trustees met into the 11th hour.
For the second month in a row, the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District Board of Trustees met into the 11th hour.

The meeting Wednesday night lasted four hours, ending at 11:10, and had a packed house of parents and district teachers anxious to hear the latest information on state budget cuts.

Superintendent Jackie Munoz presented facts and figures about the state Legislature’s counterproposal to Gov. Gray Davis’ proposed mid-year cuts in education spending.

“Things are changing on a daily basis,” Munoz said.

As of the meeting, the state Assembly and Senate had proposed few, if any, across-the-board budget cuts. Also, both houses agreed not to cut spending on a per-student basis for this school year, Munoz said. She advised planning for next year’s cuts now.

“There are things we can do now to prepare for next year,” Munoz said. “We can save some unspent money we have right now to prepare for next year.”

The five-member board approved suggested budget reductions for the mid-year budget. The supervisor of fiscal services, superintendent, site administrators and the district’s budget committee all had a hand in shaping the recommendations.

The recommendations, as passed by the board, include bringing back all site-unspent, unrestricted funds; freezing spending except for necessities; requiring that all expenditures be approved by the superintendent; freezing all travel and conferences; cutting bottled water and Anzar High School’s security service contract; and reallocating release time for substitute costs to restricted funding.

The board removed original recommendations including cutting non-league games for Anzar sports, cutting site and district mailings – the board concluded that these items did not save enough money to justify the cuts – and deducting 10.82 percent from site-restricted funds, which is no longer a projected cut.

Many parents and teachers voiced their concerns over rumors about the future of Aromas School Principal Mary Ann Tucker. A letter to the board from two parents went as far as to say the parents would pull their children out of the school if there were no principal at the school next year.

Because the concerns address a personnel issue, the board cannot discuss it in a public meeting.

Parent Paul Goodman brought up his concerns during public discussion about the number of students graduating at the elementary schools but not enrolling at Anzar High School.

“Why is the board not talking about this issue?” he said. “Why won’t you listen to the silent majority of parents who are pulling their kids from the district?”

The next ASJUSD regular board meeting is Wednesday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at San Juan School.

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