Community Comment: Budget Proposal to FUSD School Board

Today, the following comment was submitted via email to all School Board Members, and to the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association (FUTA) and the Fillmore chapter of California School Employees Association (CSEA),

FUSD Board Members, FUTA and CSEA Presidents,

I wanted to make this statement at tonight’s board meeting but business is taking me out of town. It’s regarding a proposal for the budget cuts that I believe all parties should seriously consider. I’m hoping one or more board members will ask Mike Bush to run a few scenarios with actual numbers to see what it looks like. Even if you don’t fully agree with or see challenges to the proposal, I believe it’s necessary to consider all options.

Thank you and here is the statement:

April 19th, 2011

My name is Scott Duckett.

I’m speaking tonight as a private citizen concerned about the budget cuts. At a recent board meeting, both board members and cabinet members requested that any ideas regarding budget cuts be brought forward. In response to that, I’d like to make a proposal. The proposal has been heard by at least one board member; however I want to make sure it’s heard by all board members and union leadership, and has an opportunity to be publically vetted. Before I tell you what the proposal is, I’d like to first tell you the top three reasons why this proposal should be considered.

The first reason to adopt this proposal is NOT ONE SERVICE TO ONE STUDENT WILL BE LOST. Not one athletic program, not one classroom, not one thing students enjoy now will be lost. The repeated goal of board members to keep the cuts as far as away from the students as possible will be realized.

The second reason to adopt this proposal is NOT A SINGLE DISTRICT EMPLOYEE WILL LOSE THEIR JOB. Nobody. Not one person. All layoff notices would be rescinded.

And the third reason to adopt this proposal is IT’S FAIR TO ALL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES. No one individual or group caused the budget cuts, and under this proposal, no one individual or group will be forced to take more cuts or lose their job. In other words, all cuts are equal across the entire district.

Here’s the proposal. Every district employee, from the Superintendent on down, takes an equal percentage salary cut. The exact percentage everyone takes depends on the size of the budget gap. I didn’t have actual numbers to work with, so I made some estimates. If salaries and benefits make up roughly 90% of the district’s $30 million dollar budget, that’s approximately $27 million in salaries and benefits. If everyone district wide took a 3% salary cut, the district would save $810,000. If everyone took a 5% cut, the district would save 1.3 Million. If everyone took a 7% cut, the district would save nearly $2 million dollars, and so on.

I understand this proposal is unique, and will come with its own unique set of challenges. But I believe going through another round of “budget cuts business as usual” will only result in the painful process where seeing now and that we’ve all witnessed over the past few years. It’s a process that results in cuts that are often unfair to individuals and groups within the district, it results in valued district employees losing their jobs, and ends with cuts being made that directly affect students.

Thank you.