If You Go

The Chino Valley Unified School District board members will meet at 7 Thursday night at the district office, 5130 Riverside Drive, Chino.

CHINO - Despite having a $15 million budget surplus, Chino Valley Unified officials are calling for some caution before immediately restoring programs and positions that have been cut over the past few years.

The board tonight will consider Superintendent Wayne Joseph's list of 18 items totaling $10 million that could be restored for the current and 2013-14 school years.

Joseph said the district, bolstered by money from the recently passed Proposition 30, is cautiously optimistic. That's evidenced by the fact he has asked the board to bring some items back for only one year.

"It was a temptation of mine to bring items back for longer but the reason we are able to do it now is because the board has been prudent in the way they've handled the budget," he said.

A couple of Joseph's recommendations would take effect immediately through the end of this school year.

Chino Valley Unified also has a $24 million surplus in its projected unappropriated ending balance for the 2014-15 school year.

In past years, however, state budget shortfalls caused the district to make sizeable reductions in programs and staff.

The school board in 2011 had to close a $28.5 million budget gap projected for the 2012-13 school year. In February 2012, they approved nearly $20 million in cuts for the 2012-13 and the 2013-14 school years.

Board member Irene Hernandez-Blair said Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative Proposition 30 didn't create a windfall of money, but it restored what was previously cut. Proposition 30 was passed in November and raised California's sales tax and income tax rates for top earners.

Hernandez-Blair said board members must proceed with caution and common sense.

"I think we should be very prudent in what we recommend or approve be restored because we must be prepared for unexpected emergencies and be mindful of the impending implementation of Common Core, which will come at a significant cost to the district," she said.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a new program that is estimated to cost each school district a significant amount to put in place. The national initiative aims for students to have a set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading.

"With that said, I also believe we should prioritize expenses that will assist in providing quality education to all students, especially in areas and sub-groups which have resulted in our district being designated as needing Program Improvement," Hernandez-Blair said.

Board member Andrew Cruz said he's confident about bringing some items back like school counselors, assistant principals and athletic transportation.

"Gov. Brown is cautiously optimistic and this allows the district to prioritize restoration based on his outlook," Cruz said.

Board member Charles Dickie echoed Joseph's remarks but said if cuts happen anytime soon, the district will have to "make deeper cuts." Dickie also has concerns about the possible approval of a charter school opening in the district.

The state Department of Education will be reviewing a charter petition from the Neighborhood Arts and Science Academy in mid-March. NASA's plans are to open an independent charter in the district. Its petition was denied by the district and the San Bernardino County Board of Education. By law, NASA officials are allowed to take their petition to the state for approval.

"If they get approved, it is possible they will take some of our teachers and that will affect layoffs," Dickie said.

canan.tasci@inlandnewspapers.com

909-483-9340

@chinovalleynow