Monthly Archives: August 2010

SVUSD Itemized List of Potential Cuts for 2011-2012

The following is a letter from SVEF with an itemized list with associated costs of things that would potentially need to be cut to close the projected shortfall of $950,000 for 2011-2012 if a parcel tax measure is not passed. The letter is reproduced below in it’s entirety (excluding personal email addresses):


SVUSD Expenses – Items that would be cut if we don’t raise $950,000 for 2011-12 School Year

Dear Parents and Friends of Scotts Valley Schools,
No one needs much of a reminder about the terrible fiscal shape California is in.  Public school districts are being especially hard hit — and Scotts Valley Unified is no exception.  Already one of the lowest-funded K-12 districts in the state, we are constantly challenged to provide the best for our students. As enrollment declines, expectations for student achievement are raised, reporting requirements are increased and funding per pupil decreases, these challenges become even greater.  Since 2007, the district has gone from a budget of $19 million to $16.4 million. This has resulted in layoffs of personnel, loss of student programs, less maintenance and custodial support, fewer teachers and larger class sizes.
The worst is yet to come.  Next year, 2011-12, the district must make additional cuts of close to $1 million dollars, which we will be expected to maintain for 2012/2013. Over the course of the coming months, the Board of Trustees will be considering, with community input, the following cuts.  None of these will be easy to make.  

< td align="left">Eliminating all but ONE counselor
Actions Estimated Saving
Closing all four libraries $55,178
Closing the high school Career Center $9,197
Reducing accounting personnel at the District Office $12,504
Eliminating grades 6-12 music program $65,000
Reducing site clerical staff to one-third time $76,927
Eliminating a custodian $37,380
Eliminating SVMS academy and increasing class size* $144,960
Adding 5 academic furlough days (5 fewer days for students)* $265,017
Adding 5 furlough days to certificated staff (non-student days)* $200,178
Adding 5 furlough days to administrative staff* $26,835
TOTAL SAVINGS $1,080,937

The items starred are subject to negotiations with our teachers union and bargaining units.  Please understand the list identifies two kinds of furloughs – non-teaching days (furloughs) and teaching days which would shorten the school year (academic furloughs).  Administrators would take the same number of days as other staff. To meet our financial obligations, these cuts would need to remain in place for at least TWO YEARS.
I’m guessing right now you’re as angry as we are.  These cuts follow a decrease in state funding of close to $1000 per student in the last four years. In previous years, we managed to develop a balanced budget by cutting positions, services and programs at the district office and all school sites.  We eliminated positions and hours of administrators, teachers, counselors, the district nurse, instructional assistants, custodians, secretaries and more. We have increased class sizes at all sites. All administrators have voluntarily taken furlough days to help balance the budget. Experts predict that we will not be back to our 2007 funding level until 2013-14. 
What can you do?  Make an immediate tax deductible donation to the Scotts Valley Educational Foundation, where the money will go directly to our schools to save programs and positions.  Join the Ed Foundation in its quest to identify and apply for grant money, or support the variety of fundraisers the Foundation has scheduled each year to support our schools.  If you know of a business willing to sponsor a child, a family or an entire program, please reach out to them.  Your company may support matching donations; please ask your HR department about such a program.  If every family in our district donated $365 per child, we would reach nearly $970,000.  To date, the program has raised $30,000.  

$ a day table 2

Donations can be made on the SVEF website at  Or send a check to Scotts Valley Educational Foundation, 245-M Mt. Hermon Road, Box 150, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. To volunteer with the Ed Foundation, contact Katie Bagley or Mary Dettle.

Charlotte Multer and Allison Niday
Current and Incoming Presidents, SVEF

Clearly, this is not a list anyone can be happy about and unfortunately part of the difficult job the staff at the District Office is tasked with.

OFSVS Update #3 August 2010

Steve Trefethen just sent supporters the following message:

Hi Everyone,
Hope this latest update finds you all enjoying the Summer! The last OFSVS update was May 23rd, 2010 and recently there has been quite a bit of activity related to the school board I wanted to bring to your attention. First, there are now two openings on the SVUSD school board for which there are only two community members (John Abel and Art Bubb) running meaning unless other candidates register there will be no election and the two new members will simply join the board.

Additionally, with the introduction of Bubb and Abel, we learn of a new political action committee formed by Derek Timm with a press release on Mr. Abel’s website consistent with Derek’s publicly stated opinion on Dr. Silver appearing in our local press.

Along with this OFSVS letter I’ve just written a post reflecting my experience working with the leadership of the district which has been dramatically different from that of Derek’s. The reality is SVUSD is faced with enormous challenges and it’s important to understand, regardless of who holds the  leadership positions, they’ll likely be tasked at times with making unpopular and difficult decisions regarding people’s careers and the future of students in the District.

Community Day
Please remember Community Day is September 18th!

OFSVS Blog Posts Since May

Reality Check
Scotts Valley Community Day 2010
Santa Cruz County School Board Openings
2010 Music At Skypark
Scotts Valley Unified School District Salary Comparison
California School District Furloughs
Effort To Reduce Parcel Tax Passage Rate To 55% Fails For November
Coffee Talk Questions In Need Of Answers
Scotts Valley District Office Staff Offers Two Furlough Days For 2010-2011
Community Fundraising Meeting June 1, 2010
Cupertino’s Their Future Is Now – How They Did I

OFSVS Members Update
There are now 32 people (up from 20) throughout Scotts Valley on this mailing! If you can please continue to spread the information about this group and help engage more people throughout our community.

Please let me know if you would like to see specific information posted to the site or if you’re interested in posti

ng items of interest I’d be happy to work with you. As always please feel free to forward this email to anyone who you feel is interested.

Apologies in for this late summer interruption but I felt several of the above items “newsworthy” and in the interest open communication on which this effort is based felt it necessary.

Enjoy the few remaining weeks of Summer!

Join Now!
On Twitter

Reality Check

Given the economic environment the Scotts Valley School district finds itself in, it would come as no surprise employees not feeling very good about their plight. Having spent 15 years at Borland, a now defunct Scotts Valley stalwart, I know first hand what’s it’s like to weather a dozen years of layoffs, downsizing, lack of employee continuing education, shrinking benefits, static salaries and rock bottom morale etc. It’s not fun and strangles effective communication.

In the midst of an economic downturn paralleled only by the Great Depression many people, companies and organizations are struggling with morale and I’d expect the Scotts Valley’s Teacher’s union is no exception. Like all CA school districts SVUSD has weathered significant cutbacks for many consecutive years with several more to come and if you look closely, which I have, I believe you’ll find this Administration (and Board) seem to be responsibly managing the district’s declining resources despite California’s over complicated and deeply flawed Public school financing system evidenced by the fact other local schools face massive deficits this year. By 2011-2012 the the state’s dire fiscal situation is poised to send 100’s of school districts into qualified if not negative certification (meaning deficit spending) which is where SVUSD will land unless options such as a parcel tax are passed to prevent such an outcome. Unless the State of California can miraculously turn around in the next 16 months its Public schools, which educate 1 in 8 children in the United States will require a Federal bailout
Fortunately, Scotts Valley has a very small school district thus there are a variety of avenues for establishing dialog with the key players. While the Scotts Valley Banner is an option in a tiny city like ours I’ve personally found it very effective to directly engage the members of the Board and individuals at the District office face-to-face affording me the opportunity to foster trust, gain an understanding and grasp the magnitude of the challenges they face running a school system shackled by our state’s fiscal bureaucracy. I’ve met with or spoken to all but one of the SV Board members and have spent several hours at the district office pouring over the budget or discussing it with the CBO and have found everyone to be dedicated and willing to indulge my frequent requests for information. I spent an eight hour weekday at the District’s Strategic Planning meeting, a process Dr. Silver brought to Scotts Valley, to ensure it was heading in the right direction based on feedback from students, teachers, staff, Board members, and community members. I don’t recall seeing any of the most outspoken people in the community at the meeting though admittedly I didn’t know everyone in the room. That day was spent examining, discussing and approving the mission of the district with a large emphasis on finding solutions to the immediate fiscal crisis.
Lastly, regarding the Superintendent’s job, a position for which SVUSD pays less than other similar sized districts (refer to SARC data), I imagine it to be very tough requiring a wide variety of skills to deal with children, teachers, classified staff, unions, boards and the public (I’m sure I’m missing several other categories). While I don’t know the entire history of the current SV Superintendent I know that when difficult fiscal decisions are to be made all eyes will be on that individual whomever it may be at the time and there are bound to be lots of passionately unhappy people despite their best efforts.
For instance, just grasp this quote from “Getting Down to Facts: School Finance and Governance in California” about California’s public school financing system:
A complex and irrational finance system. The number of dollars available to each school district is largely an historical artifact of spending in the 1970s combined with confusing categorical grant programs. As a result, similar districts can receive substantially different revenues per  pupil, and differences in student needs across districts are not systematically accounted for in determining revenue levels. In addition, the finance system is extraordinarily complex and imposes substantial and costly compliance burdens on school districts. Pre-dating the implementation of modern accountability systems, the current finance structure has never been updated to align with the states accountability system, nor redesigned to help local officials meet student performance goals.

As much as some may want to scrap the Board and Superintendent the problems the district faces are likely to worsen leaving whomever we manage to elect/hire with unmitigated and ongoing problems not to mention having to start from scratch with all the aforementioned groups. In my opinion, working with those who were dedicated enough to have sought these positions, particularly our unpaid Board is the path I’ve chosen.


Scotts Valley Community Day 2010

The Scotts Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) is gathering support for a Community Day on Saturday September 18th. The idea is to have the community as a whole raise funds for Scotts Valley Unified School district through business donations and personal efforts such as yard sales.

What: Community Day Details
When: September 18, 2010
Participating Businesses

Updated August 2, 2010: Santa Cruz Sentinel article on the SV Community Day