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Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001


PVUSD Budget Workshop Held

Severe Cuts from Governor Brown Threaten Bus Services

By Robert Winkler
Special to The Desert Independent

January 22, 2012

BLYTHE, Calif – “Denial is NOT a river in Egypt!” stated one speaker at a School Services Conference in Anaheim on Wednesday attended by Acting Superintendent Bob Bilek, labor representatives, accounting personnel and one Board member.

In many ways, those whose lives are directly impacted by the cuts imposed on education by Governor Brown recently seem oblivious to the threats to their own livelihood. Perhaps, as one speaker noted, the constant barrage of “The Sky is Falling” style of dire financial predictions has numbed the feelings those teachers, administrators and classified staff most directly affected.

Over the past four years, despite “doom and gloom” scenarios, the Palo Verde Unified School District has still been able to pull through. Most reassuringly, while other districts throughout Riverside Country were laying off teachers and aides, not one person in Palo Verde lost his/her job this past year. Unions were key to this fact in that the Palo Verde Teachers Association agreed to five unpaid “furlough” days cut from school year while the California School Employees Association agreed to a 3% wage cut across the board.

The cuts are more pronounced this coming year and more will be asked of the employee unions yet again, according to Business Director Val Braden at a Budget Advisory Group presentation on Wednesday.

In the worst-case scenario, according to Braden, the cuts to Palo Verde will amount to a loss of $370 per student’s ADA which may have to be made up with fifteen unpaid furlough days – cutting three weeks off the school year.

Adding to that nightmare, Governor Brown has cut financial aid to Home-To-School Transportation for the current year – causing a impact of over $400,000 to the General Fund that was not expected. The worst is for next year. The State will cease subsidizing bus services for students in 2012-13 entirely. In order to maintain the same bussing services provided now, it will cost the district a total of $1.2 million. Needless to say, things are going to have to change.

Other items of importance are that the proposed Transitional Kindergarten – an ‘early’ Kindergarten for those students turning five in November and next year in October – will not be funded at all. It was also mentioned that the state will not support AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination courses - but how that will impact local classes at the High School and BMS are yet to be determined.

A possible chance for avoiding these losses may occur if the voters of the State of California approve an initiative proposed by the Governor which will raise taxes by 2.5%. However, even if approved, the Governor assured school officials that its passage would only allow for “flat-lined” revenues. For Palo Verde USD, this “flat-lining” is no panacea in that this is a declining district in terms of Average Daily Attendance.

More public meetings are scheduled in the coming months in order to make employees and parents aware of the bleak future awaiting the school district. As one union leader stated at the Budget Advisory meeting, “Things (negotiations) are going to get very ugly.”

To view the PowerPoint presentation given by Ms. Braden, please click HERE.

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