Despite strong urging from district staff members, the Westminster School District’s Board of Trustees voted, 3-2, to postpone reaching final decisions on three separate resolutions that involved reinstating positions that were eliminated in previous board meetings.
The decision came later during the meeting after Christine Fullerton, assistant superintendent of business services, gave an updated budget proposal presentation for the board’s approval for a July 1 deadline submission.
Some of the positions included in the resolutions were administrator of curriculum and instruction, administrator of categorical programs and assessments and director of technology and information systems
The resolutions will be tabled until the next board meeting on July 25.
The possibility of future budget deficits weighed heavily on the school district throughout the year, as the Board of Trustee asked staff to identify “placeholders” that could be eliminated if the foreseen budget did not improve. However, the district staff hoped that Governor Jerry Brown’s education reform plan and Proposition 30 would open up additional funding for the school district.
During the last board meeting, district staff members seemed positive about the budget after the Governor’s May Budget Revision.
The same sentiment carried during the meeting as audience members cheered after Fullerton shared the budget proposal.
During the budget presentation, Fullerton said the budget featured positive numbers and that several eliminated positions can be brought back.
“For years and years we had bad news as we sat up here and talked about the budget,” Fullerton said. “I have the new title of delivering little rays of sunshine.”
Superintendent Richard Tauer also spoke to the board again before the vote, saying that the positions were vital for certain programs survival and implementation as the school district moves in Brown’s Common Core program.
“There are certainly no lack of work and no lack of funds,” he said. “So, what is the problem?”
Board of Trustee President Mary Mangold expressed concern about the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) percentage in the budget proposal. Mangold said the district has not been able to give a cost of living raise for six years to its employees.
According to the budget proposal, the COLA for the district was 1.56 percent for the upcoming school year.
“There is a COLA on the table and it keeps disappearing,” she said. It just keeps going away for six years. If I was a classified employee, I’d be concerned. If I was a certificated employee, I’d be concerned. I’m also concerned about class size.”
The Board of Trustees voted that positions will be reinstated based on a priority list if and when the budget seems clearer and favorable. However, Mangold said that no official list of positions has been made public yet from the board.
Tauer asked the Board to hold a special meeting next week about the resolutions instead of postponing it to July, citing that work will stall because of the July 1 deadline date.
Mangold said during the meeting that waiting to until the next board meeting would result in a win-win for the district.
“I don’t see the harm of waiting 15 working days,” Mangold said. “It’s three weeks.”
Trustee Jamison Power made a motion to approve the resolutions as listed, however, those motions failed, 2-3.
The Board did pass the budget proposal without the three resolutions, 5-0, so it can be submitted before deadline.
Three selected students from Johnson Middle School were also honored during the meeting for their trip to the Richard Nixon library to meet Astronaut Buzz Aldrin as part of Kids@Science. Also, Willmore second grader Tu Le was honored as the contest winner of the District’s Bookmark competition.