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June 22, 2010 > Board of Education Briefs from New Haven District

Board of Education Briefs from New Haven District

Submitted By Rick La Plante

The Board of Education approved a 2010-11 budget on June 15 that, despite another round of cuts imposed by the state, minimizes a planned increase in class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, saving the jobs of more than 40 teachers.

The $99 million budget-down from $108 million as recently 2008-09-also enables the District to retain transportation for the middle school students who live the furthest from their schools, but for the 2010-11 school year only. It also enables the District to postpone for one more year the planned elimination of stipends for after-school activities until 2012-13.

Chief Business Officer Akur Varadarajan explained that the District's conservative budget philosophy paid an unexpected dividend when average daily attendance increased slightly this year, despite projections that indicated there would be a slight decrease. New Haven has been in declining enrollment since 1998. The increased enrollment and improved attendance has been coupled with the ongoing efforts of teachers, classified employees, and administrators to save money wherever possible.

In March, the Board approved increasing K-3 student-to-teacher ratios from 20-to-1 to as high as 30-to-1. Under the budget approved Tuesday night, K-3 class sizes will be capped at 25-to-1 for 2010-11, and would not be increased to 30-to-1 until 2011-12.

With increased class sizes, it was anticipated that over 50 permanent teachers might lose their jobs. With retirements, other attrition, and the 25-to-1 proposal, as of today, only eight remain on the layoff list.

The March cuts approved by the Board also included the elimination of home-to-school transportation for kindergarten through eighth-grade students, a program paid for with a combination of state and District funds, augmented by ridership fees. Although the District portion must be redirected to the classroom, state funding is determined on prior year spending, meaning the District will still receive a segment of its state apportionment in 2010-11.

Those funds will be used to pay for transportation for middle school students whose families live furthest from school, beyond 13/4 miles. Some middle school students live as far as 4.2 miles from their schools. About 180 of the 220 middle schoolers currently being bused would be eligible for transportation next year. Students who live within 13/4 miles of their middle school no longer will be bused.

Besides being able to postpone the elimination of stipends for one more year, the budget approved Tuesday night no longer includes the closure of an elementary school, and it postpones the sale of the Educational Services Center from 2011-12 to 2012-13. Balancing those budgets, however, requires three furlough days for all employees, starting in 2011-12. Furloughs are subject to negotiation with the New Haven Teachers Association, the local chapter of the California School Employees Association, and the New Haven Administrators Association.

The Board also:

Approved the appointment of John Hazatone as principal of Hillview Crest Elementary School.

Approved changes to the 2010-11 instructional calendar.

Agendas of regular Board of Education meetings and minutes of past meetings are available on the District website: www.nhusd.k12.ca.us.

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