Staff and teacher contracts likely to be

by Nathan Wright, Staff Writer
Budget talks remain a work in progress this week for the Windsor
Unified School District, as the school community attempts to come
up with $840,000 in cuts.
The Board of Trustees has asked the Budget Board Advisory
Committee (BBAC) to come up with a list of possible cuts, a list
that should be completed by next week. The committee meets
“I believe we’re on schedule,” said school district Director of
Business Services Wade Roach. “They’re devoted and they’re
genuinely concerned where the district is going in the future.”
The BBAC, which consists of teachers, staff, administrators, and
parents, has no easy task. The committee has asked, and has
received, recommendations from the administrative council, the
Windsor District Educators Association (WDEA), and the California
School Employees Association (CSEA).
Many of the proposed cuts are of funds already guaranteed in
employee contracts. The district must renegotiate those contracts
before making final decisions. A one-year freeze of annual teacher
raises seems to have the most support, while decreasing benefits
has the least.
High School Principal Jeff Harding, a member of the committee,
would like the board to look closely at benefits. “It might not be
sellable, but it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Between the proposed reduction in salary increases and medical
benefits, the district could save an estimated $820,000. Harding
told the committee that by not making these reductions, the
committee will be deciding to make other cuts. “It’s going to be a
tradeoff,” he said.
Dorothy Miller, a teacher and BBAC member, doesn’t think the
school board will be able to convince the WDEA to take on so many
cuts. “I think you’re living in a dream world,” she said.
Windsor is in a unique situation among Sonoma County schools.
Because the district has grown so quickly, most of its staff is
young and very few are likely to retire. While other districts
balance salary increases by replacing retiring teachers with less
expensive young teachers, Windsor’s payroll continues to increase
every year. “We’ve had one teacher retire in the last eight years,
and we have 70 teachers,” said Harding.
“We’re going to have this monkey on our back that we’re going to
have to deal with for the next 10 or 15 years,” said BBAC member
Jeff Duplicki.
The school board will discuss budget cuts in upcoming meetings
at the town hall on Feb. 17 and March 2. The BBAC hopes to complete
its recommendations by its Feb. 9 meeting at the district office.
All budget meetings are open to the public.

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