By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The Westminster School District honored its best and looked ahead to tough times at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Travis Garwick, a science teacher from Warner Middle School, was officially recognized as the District’s Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011.
Upon receiving the award, a misty-eyed Garwick thanked his family for their sacrifices and the other Warner teachers for selecting him.
“This is an award for all of Warner Middle School for the hard work we put in,” he said.
Board President Jo-Ann Purcell said, “Travis is not only a wonderful teacher, he is a gracious man.”
Garwick was also a semifinalist for the Orange County Teacher of the Year Award. He said that teaching is one of the greatest and most rewarding professions and acknowledged the “fantastic community” that he works in.
The Board of Trustees honored Garwick and 15 other teachers from the 16 WSD schools. Individual award winners are selected by their fellow teachers at each school. The 16 winners are then eligible for the district-wide award.
The Board determines a winner based on written applications and interviews. In Garwick’s application he wrote, “Outstanding Teachers stand out because they have an innate passion to positively affect the lives of students inside and outside the classroom.”
Garwick added that when it comes to outstanding teachers, he is part of the rule, not the exception.
District Superintendent Richard Tauer offered his thanks. “Congratulations to all the award winners tonight,” he said. “Your hard work is what makes this District great, especially in these tough times.”
And talk of tough times carried through the rest of the meeting.
The Board voted to receive a Third Interim Financial Report after a presentation from Assistant Superintendent Clark Hampton. According to Hampton, a third report was required because the first two reports contained negative balances.
The report showed two budget scenarios for the next two school years. Which scenario wins out depends on California’s next budget.
“The legislature still has to do their work in getting a budget in place,” Hampton said.
Neither scenario has a bright outlook, but the worst case scenario is based on Governor Jerry Brown’s January proposal of no tax extensions and cuts of roughly $349 per student. That plan would cut the District’s revenue stream by $4 million for 2011-12 and would leave a zero-dollar balance at the end of th year. Revenues would increase the following year but not as much as expenses, leaving the District with a possible $7.5 million deficit.
The so-called best case scenario would result in only a $4.3 million deficit at the end of 2012-13. That plan is based on another Brown proposal that calls for tax extensions and cuts of about $19 per student. This proposal would reduce the District’s revenue by under $1 million for 2011-12 and would leave a $3 million balance going into the following year.
Currently the district spends roughly $5,200 per student, according to Hampton. The range for schools in California $4,700 to $15,000 per student. But Hampton added that Westminster’s cost is right around the average.
Hampton repeated that whatever happens is in the hands of Sacramento, not the WSD, and that Brown is pushing the second plan.
“The Governor’s proposal is to keep taxes at their current level over the next four years,” he said, referring to Brown’s plan to extend current tax rates that are set to reduce or expire.
Hampton also said that Brown’s plan will return education funding back to earlier levels. “He’s starting to unravel the things that were done over the last three or four years.”
Purcell urged people to contact their local Assembly members and state senators directly.
“The people who can get us out of this aren’t sitting in this room tonight,” she said. “Write, phone, do whatever you can. We all do our jobs over and beyond what is expected and it has certainly brought fruit in our wonderful teachers who were honored this evening.”
The board also presented a certificate of recognition to Trevor Tran, a second -grader from Clegg Elementary School. The seven-year-old raised $600, including $200 from his college fund, and bought 82 brand new pairs of shoes for Tsunami victims in Japan. He then donated the shoes to Soles4Souls, a Tennessee-based charity.
The Board of Trustees meets on the second Thursday of the month, unless otherwise noted. The next meeting is June 9 at 7 pm. District headquarters are at 14121 Cedarwood Street in Westminster.