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Local Voices: Capo Put On Notice

Capistrano Unified has been identified by the California Department of Education as being in "financial jeopardy".

Time for a game of Jeopardy.

Name a school district identified by the California Department of Education that is in "financial jeopardy".

What is Capistrano Unified?

That would be correct.

The Orange County Department of Education has recently met with our school district's Board of Trustees to discuss the severity of the district's financial situation.  The California Department of Education also notified the district it is in "financial jeopardy."  Capistrano Unified is facing a deficit of $50 million. 

The Board of Trustees has made a number of controversial financial decisions over the last two years.  Now it has a more serious one to tackle.  How will it close the gap?

Labor negotiations with the teachers' union are about to begin.  Teaching is a labor intensive business so much of the district's finances are spent on pay.  It will be impossible to close the deficit without pay cuts.

The teachers' union went on strike about two years ago over a 10 percent pay cut.  It has since been partially restored.  It waits to be seen how they will react to an even more serious situation that could result in a greater reduction in pay and layoffs.

The Governor plans to place a tax increase on the ballot.  Should it pass, the State will be in a better position to pay for the deferrals it has promised local school districts.  But are Californians willing to vote themselves a tax increase?

California already has some of the highest taxes in the nation.  Many residents within the boundaries of Capistrano Unified also pay mello roos.  Tax increases don't resonate with our local electorate.  However, the Governor's proposal and perhaps other tax proposals will be on the ballot in a statewide election.  It waits to be seen how the rest of the state will vote.

I don't envy those in the field of education.  California's anti-business climate has made our situation in the recession worse than other states and has slowed our recovery.  School districts have taken it on the chin for a number of years.

Teachers and school district support staff have been on a financial roller coaster for a number of years.  It needs to come to a stop.

Our state legislators need to focus their attention on creating a business friendly climate to restore jobs so people can pay taxes.  This would be the best gift they could give schools to meet their future needs.

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Jim Reardon March 02, 2012 at 09:38 PM
The argument that we "all live in the private sector" is becoming increasingly hard to swallow. While once, it was true that public sector jobs were at somewhat of a disadvantage, this situation started to change two decades ago as public sector unions gained influence. Today, the situation has so completely reversed that we live in a two class society. A good private sector job for a professional engineer or middle manager with 4-6 years of college in a responsible position with 5 to 7 years of experience looks like: - $85,000 per year (salary, exempt from overtime provisions) - bonus based on performance, generally not to exceed 15% of base - 10 days paid vacation until 5 years, 15 days thereafter (rarely 20 after 10 years) - 5 sick days annually (not usable for any other purpose) - medical for employee only (dependents are covered at employee cost) - full-time status is 2080 hours / year - 401K (employee contributions are matched at 20 to 50 percent up to 6 percent of salary by employer) - pension: none, except Social Security - seniority status: none - tenure: none - sabbatical leave: none - education reimbursement: limited to $5000 per year (but no time off), or none - life insurance: $25,000 - $50,000 - disability: rare - dental: very basic, if at all - maternity leave: by statute - paid holidays: 9 per year Since late 2007, there has been downward pressure on this compensation each year and this pressure continues to this day.
Jane Lambson March 02, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Jim: Very accurate. I would tinker with Sick Days - Usually 6 or 7 401K - Your figures are probably high at this point because many employers have curtailed or slashed this benefit to save money. I have seen as high as 80% up to 6% but the contribution was matched with only company stock. Other than that, very well laid out.
Pam Sunderman March 02, 2012 at 11:44 PM
You guys go right on tinkering with statistics and pitting people against each other. My point is that it is disingenuous to compare all private sector jobs with teaching. There is no average private sector job (sorry to disagree Mr. Reardon...but really!!!). And why do you find it necessary to compare them anyway. Teachers have had the same (or similar) benefits for decades. They have also been considered a low paying profession historically. Please search news archives for as few as 5 or 6 years ago and you will find nothing about greedy teachers and lots about paying our teachers more. I see this as a well orchestrated campaign to vilify teachers because their union is a powerful opposition to the lobbyists of wealthy individuals and corporations. If you buy into this then so be it. But you will not personally benefit from the devastation of the teaching profession. Actually your children and grandchildren will suffer. Teachers are suffering the same downsizing and pay cuts as the rest of the country. The difference is that they are vilified in the process. Ridiculous...
Sharon Y. March 03, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Oh Jolly....teachers in Capo are not suffering with pay cuts or benefit cuts. Acording to the OCR capo teachers saw an increase, and patch wrote a story not long ago about the district covering cost increases to benefits , the only one who suffers in cusd in the student.
Capo Parent Too March 03, 2012 at 07:22 AM
I've never had an employer have a use them or lose them sick days, so it depends on the employer. You lose them when you leave your jobs, school employees get paid for sick days when they leave, that is the difference you are thinking of, but employers let you carry sick days over from year to year. The thing that bothers me is that we've allowed the private sector to chip away at benefits in the name of profits and so because unionized workers have it better then there is something wrong. This is backwards, we should be asking why has it gotten so bad in the private sector, where have the longer vacations gone, where have the pensions gone? The teachers will have to take a pay cut, but the district budget has been cut year over year, the reason teacher's salaries are such a big percentage of the budget is because of the fact that so much has been cut in prior years. This is a travesty that our schools are taking such a hit and a shame but it shouldn't be about pitting teacher's against parents, teacher's against the board, etc. This has to be figured out in a cooperative manner.

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