Saturday, 13 April 2024

Lakeport Unified votes to cut nine positions, more than $500,000 from next year's budget

LAKEPORT – “This is the most disheartening meeting,” Lakeport Unified School District Board member Phil Kirby said Thursday evening. “It borders on nauseous.”


Kirby's comments followed the unanimous decision by the Lakeport Unified School District Board of Trustees to eliminate nine positions as part of a list of programs and services to be cut for the 2010-11 school year.


Superintendent Erin Hagberg and other board members echoed Kirby's feelings.


“There is nothing on that list that I feel good about,” Hagberg said during the brief discussion before more than a half-million dollars in cuts was approved for next year.


The meeting, which was attended by fewer than 15 people – most of them administrators and employee representatives – lacked spirit.


“Where's the alarm?” asked Clear Lake High School Principal Steve Gentry, who presides over the district's large budget committee.


In this third consecutive year of major budget reductions, Gentry said he felt the budget committee process had run its course.


“We have very few new ideas at this point, quite frankly,” he said. “Many of the options have been used.”


After reviewing the current year budget and multi-year revenue projections, district business manager Linda Slockbower had little optimism, showing the state reducing the district's budget by $5.3 million in coming years.


Referring to per-student funding amounts, Slockbower explained, “It's like saying 'here's your paycheck but you can only have 81 percent of it.'”


Employee representatives had little to say.


Local Classified Employees' Association representative Doreen McGuire commented that past years' budget cuts have sparked local protests and demonstrations, which are being held in cities throughout California, but not here.


Instead, she blamed legislators. “These cuts do have to stop because the only way to invest in our future is to invest in our kids,” she said. “We need to get in touch with our lawmakers.”


In the absence of Lakeport Unified Teachers' Association representation, middle school teacher Rob Alves thanked the board for its consideration.


He referred to the practice by other districts of laying off many teachers only to hire them back in the fall.


“I appreciate the effort that goes into the decision-making,” he said, “so that it affects as few lives as possible.”


Director of maintenance and transportation Dave Norris also put blame squarely on the state for the elimination of a bus route, telling the board, “We should not feel guilty about this.”


He pointed out that although other states nationwide require busing, in California transportation is not mandated.


Norris stated in a prepared report that Lakeport's school district receives a disproportionately small amount of money per student for busing.


As an example, he showed that Konocti Unified School District receives $2.73 per student per day for transportation in contrast to Lakeport's $1.03.


He pointed out after the meeting that in addition to flaws in the funding formula at the state level, urban districts have the advantage of alternative public transportation systems unavailable in rural areas like Lake County.


To the board, he directed his focus on teaching parents and children how to be safe when walking to school.


“There are 19 registered sex offenders living within two miles of our school,” he said.


Norris said he has had parents calling expressing concern about bus stops being located near such residences. “Now they're walking to school,” he said.


But Norris did not dispute the decision, saying he felt it is better to keep the money in the classroom.


Instead he encouraged the board to explore working with the city of Lakeport to provide crosswalks on major roads, develop “walking buses” – or groups of students walking together – and publicize Web sites that provide information about safe routes to school.


E-mail Maile Field at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .


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