SCV LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY TOUR – 2008
Here is what a 10 percent across-the-board cut means to the Hart District
• Class size increased by 1 student across the district (25 fewer teaching positions)
• Every employee must take one day unpaid furlough (for teachers, that means elimination of a staff development “buy back” day)
• Reduction in staff at several of our smaller schools
• Reduction in the number of campus supervisors and junior high school custodians
• Elimination of several programs aimed at drug abuse prevention
• Elimination of security service; eliminate night lighting of campuses
• Reduction of instructional assistants in the Resource Specialist program for at-risk students
• Reduction of summer school administrative interns, who assist in operation of summer school while receiving on-the-job training for future administrative positions (a career ladder for qualified staff)
• Elimination of a community newsletter
• Defer payment of retroactive pay increase covering the period from July 2007 to April 2008
The Hart District is fortunate because we are still a growing district, so most of the staff reductions will be covered by attrition and the number of actual staff layoffs will be minimal. However, there are districts across the state which are facing massive layoffs—certainly not a boost to a sluggish economy.
Most importantly – The State needs to give us some hard numbers quickly. If we must wait until August or October to get the final numbers, it will be too late to reinstate many of the programs and jobs that have been cut based on the “worst-case scenario.”
Special Education Transportation:
Transportation of students in special education continues to encroach upon the general fund, largely due to unfunded state mandates.
• The district’s special education transportation costs for the 2007/08 school year are estimated to be $1.7 million and $149,000 for fuel. Contrast this with a reimbursement of $530,664 which requires an estimated $1.3 million subsidy from the General Fund.
• The Reimbursement Formula for pupil transportation has remained unchanged since 1984, with the exception of COLA increases. The Hart District has doubled in size since that time.
• The district’s cost for fuel has increased 26 percent from $109,729 (July 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007) to $142,923 (July 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008).
• The district is responsible for the transportation of special needs students to age 23, where mainstreamed students graduate at age 17/18.
• In 2005, the State of California adopted regulations requiring all new school buses be manufactured with three-point seat belts, reducing school bus capacities by one-third.
Previously, the district was able to purchase a 22 passenger cutaway van for approximately $75,000. The district now must purchase a conventional bus on a truck body with a seating capacity of 24 passengers, at a cost of $124,000 per bus.
• The district receives no reimbursement for special equipment needed to transport special needs or medically fragile students, including wheelchair lifts, child restraints and car seats.
• With the passage of the new CARB regulations, the district is now required to purchase buses that run on alternative fuels such as CNG or propane.
The buses are more expensive (approximately 10 percent) and the additional cost for these technologies, while mandated, is not funded. In addition, the district will be required to invest in additional infrastructure and tooling to support the new technologies. The costs are not reimbursed by the state.
DSA Bin Time:
New construction and modernization projects all are subject to the Department of State Architects review to assure that fire protection, handicap access mitigation, and structural safety of the building meet all State requirements for public schools. The actual review of drawings and designs by DSA staff requires a relatively small amount of time compared to the total time drawings and designs are in the DSA office. The time that drawings are waiting in DSA to be reviewed costs school districts valuable time and delays projects. Often, the time quoted by DSA for plan check is overly optimistic and not accurate. Additional resources need to be allocated to DSA for staffing so that the bin time can be reduced.
Bid Limit Increase:
Bid limits for capital facilities projects is set at $15,000. Projects that cost more than that amount must be bid. The formal bid process is expensive and time consuming. The bid limit amount has not changed in at least 10 years. With the rise in construction costs over the past six years, the bid limit of $15,000 is no longer reasonable. The limit should be increased to $30,000.
Increase Pupil Grant Amounts for School Construction:
With the rapid increase of construction costs over the last six years as well as the addition of new requirements for school facility designs, the pupil grant amounts for construction need to be increased. Our current estimates for a new comprehensive high school of 200,000 square feet that would house 2600 students is $140 million dollars. That is roughly $54,000 per student. The pupil grant amount provided by the State is approximately $10,000 per student. The shortfall of $44,000 must be made up by local developer mitigation fees and the community through school facility bonds. The idea of shared responsibility for the construction of schools is no longer applicable when the State covers under 20 percent of the costs for school construction and the community and developers in the community must pay 80 percent of the costs.