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CUSD cutting jobs to trim budget
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Ceres Unified School District has been forced to reduce its workforce for the 2012-13 school year due to a lack of funding.

The Ceres School Board reluctantly voted unanimously recently to send out layoff notices to six employees.

"Other school districts are going through the same thing," said CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel. "If we didn't make the cuts, it would start impacting our core programs. It's a very unfortunate situation."

Denise Wickham, assistant superintendent of Personnel Services, reported that a reduction in pre-school funding necessitated a layoff affecting three probationary preschool teachers, hired on Aug. 10, 2011. The teachers will be placed on a 24-month rehire list for first rights to any preschool teaching positions that become available, or to substitute teach.

Steve Fabela, Director of Personnel Services, reported that a reduction in Migrant Education and pre-school funding necessitated a layoff impacting three classified employees, including an Instructional Paraprofessional I and two Instructional Paraprofessional IIs. They'll be placed on the district's 39-month rehire list to be called first should positions open.

"It's a shame," said Board President Jim Kinard.

Added Siegel: "It's important to emphasize most of the positions were filled with temporary employees."

Gov. Jerry Brown's revised state budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year slashes spending in just about every part of government, but proposes a 16 percent increase in funding for K-12 education.

"My proposal is modest, fair and temporary," he said. "It won't solve all of the state's problems, but it will help dig us out of a deep hole and protect our schools until the recovery is complete."

State funding for K-12 schools would increase from $29.3 billion in last year's budget to $34 billion by the end of 2013 if voters support the governor's November ballot initiative. The initiative will increase money for schools and provide constitutional protection for public safety funding. The measure will enact temporary income tax increases on high-income earners. It will raise income taxes by up to three percent on the wealthiest Californians for seven years and will also increase the state sales tax by one quarter of one percent for four years.

"We're assuming it's going to pass but we'll have a contingency plan in place if it doesn't," CUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Fred Van Vleck said.

If Brown's tax initiative doesn't pass, $6 billion in additional cuts will go into effect on Jan. 1.

CUSD would receive $400-500 less per student in state funding.

"It would be catastrophic to all the school districts in California," Van Vleck said. "We would stand to lose $5 million."

Brown's revised state budget proposes cutting $8.3 billion from government to close a $15.7 billion deficit.

Approximately 90 percent of Ceres Unified's budget goes toward salaries and benefits for personnel.

"We've already cut to the bare bones," Van Vleck said. "We might have to reduce the school year and increase class size. We'd have to look at all options."

An increase in class size would reduce staffing.