School district leaders in the Tri-Valley have no plans to shorten the upcoming school year by 15 days if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative in November.
Brown announced May 22 that due to the revised state budget -- which saw the deficit grow by $6.3 billion from $9.2 billion to $15.7 billion -- he would consider letting school districts statewide cut the 180-day school year by 15 days over the next two years.
The move would help districts deal with an expected $5.5 billion in cuts if the initiative fails. The governor's plan would raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more and increase the sales tax by a quarter of a percent.
However, the Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon Valley district said as of now that they have no intention of cutting the school year that deep with all four districts already planning for the worst-case scenario.
In Pleasanton, its teachers and district agreed to a one-year contract with language that allows up to four unpaid furloughs if the full cut to per-pupil spending takes place.
State legislators allowed districts to cut up to five days out the school year during 2009 and that agreement lasts until the 2014-15 school year.
Pleasanton reached a deal May 8 with language that would let the district take advantage of the agreement and trigger up to four unpaid furlough days if district revenue limit per student is cut by more than $242. The district would absorb the first $242 in cuts, and everything after that would result in furlough days.
Livermore is also working on a new deal that will have language to address the possible failed tax initiative.
"The board, district and our community value instructional minutes and days for students, and 15 fewer day in an academic year is not a viable option for us," wrote Kelly Bowers, Livermore's superintendent, in an email to the Bay Area News Group. "It would be devastating, and our students deserve better."
If the tax initiative fails, districts could lose up to $441 per student, according to School Services of California, a consulting group that advises districts. Funding for districts could drop from $5,244 if the initiative passes to $4,083 if it fails.
The impact would result in a loss of $3 million to $13 million for the Tri-Valley districts.
San Ramon Valley, which is the largest district in the Tri-Valley with more than 29,000 students and a budget of more than $200 million, plans to use its reserves built up from more than $20 million in cuts it has had to make over the past four years, said district spokesman Terry Koehne.
Dublin will also use reserves and has avoided furlough days and layoffs by using a combination of federal money, parcel taxes and growing enrollment to build enough reserves to offset any further cuts, said Stephen Hanke, Dublin's superintendent.
Any cuts to the school year beyond the five days now allowed would have to be negotiated with each district's respective teachers union.
"We often hear that this is the worst people have seen it because it is continuing," said Parvin Ahmadi, Pleasanton's superintendent, about budget cuts. "We have been in this position for four and five years, and it's taking its toll. We have not seen any new dollars since the 2007-08 year, and, with that said, we have had cuts and the cost of living has increased."
Theresa Harrington contributed to this story. Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.