No matter what happens, the Westminster School District will rely on unity and creativity to prepare for an uncertain future.
“Our most outstanding asset is being able to work together,” said Richard Tauer, superintendent of schools. “We’ve got very creative minds and that’s paid off so far.”
Tauer and Clark Hampton, assistant superintendent for business services, presented a proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year to the WSD Board of Trustees Feb. 23.
The budget will allow the district to file its Second Interim Report by March 15 to the Orange County Office of Education. But Tauer stressed the current proposal is not a finished product.
“Tonight we’re presenting placeholders for the interim budget report,” he said. “We still have a lot more work to do between now and the coming year.”
One thing’s for certain: WSD jobs are safe.
“We will not be recommending layoffs,” Tauer said. “We’ll be able to provide other ways without having to resort to layoffs.”
To be safe, the district is planning for the worst-case scenario: an $8.5 million budget shortfall if Gov. Jerry Brown’s November ballot measure fails. Brown’s proposal is to raise the state sales tax by a half-cent and income taxes on individuals making over $250,000.
“If it fails, we lose big time,” said Hampton,. “About $370 per student,”
Even if the measure passes, the district will still face a $5 million deficit. Until they know otherwise, district administrators must plan for the worst.
“We have to operate assuming it won’t pass,” Hampton said.
At the moment, the district is planning for 10 furlough days and a more than eight-percent salary reduction next year for all WSD employees, including the superintendent and administration.
If Brown’s ballot measure passes, there would likely be no salary reduction. But the furlough days would probably remain in place.
“Everybody takes furlough days, including the superintendent,” Tauer said. “Our philosophy is we try and all go on a diet together.”
There’s also a chance that if the measure fails, Brown will propose cutting the school year by 15 days, said Hampton.
“But things change rapidly. The hope is that the state comes to their senses and increases funding.”
Trustees Mary Mangold and Andrew Nguyen were absent. The Board of Trustees meets again March 8. Meetings are at 7 p.m. in the District Office Board Room at 14121 Cedarwood Ave.