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Teachers Union Proposes Budget Savings

By Lookout Staff

June 30, 2009 – In a memo to school District officials last week, the local teachers union outlined a detailed series of cost-cutting measures it said would avert teacher layoffs during tough economic times.

The measures, presented during a Santa Monica – Malibu School Board meeting last week, also include possible ways to boost revenues, such as a parcel tax increase, selling district properties and boosting enrollment by 200 students over the next two years.

The measures, union officials said, would have little or no impact on students while boosting the district’s $100 million budget by about $2 million.

“Almost all school districts are facing hard choices and many are dealing with the current budget crisis responsibly,” union officials wrote. “Unfortunately, some districts are using this historic recession as an opportunity to gain long-term concessions from classroom teachers and their leaders.

“This strategy is deeply flawed and will have long lasting negative consequences for districts, which employ such a shortsighted approach.”

This memo outlines “specific sacrifices” made by teachers for the upcoming school year, including reducing the number of teachers by 24 and reducing the annual income for all teachers by $540, which will redirect $300,000 into the General Fund, union officials said.

The union then outlined nearly a dozen measures district officials could implement that would add between $1.5 million and $2.3 million to the district’s budget.

The proposed measures include reducing the money paid to consultants, offering an early retirement incentive in 2010 and placing a moratorium on “all travel outside of the district.”

Other cost-cutting measures include slashing the communications budget by half and renegotiating the superintendent’s contract to reduce the base pay and eliminate perks, such as paid vacation days and housing and car allowances.

The memo also outlines longer-range strategies that would save the district $2.2 million, including deferring the purchase of a new student information system and reducing the funds in the Post Employment Benefits Account.

Additional sources of revenues outlined in the memo include researching the possibility of re-negotiating all district lease agreements, selling the Madison campus site and the Double Tree Hotel site, and selling the district headquarters to the City.

Union officials also are urging the district to consider a parcel tax increase that would pose the following questions to Santa Monica and Malibu voters:

“What type of public schools/programs does the community want? Is the public willing to pay for high quality public schools?”




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