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District Eyes Budget Picture
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It's shaping up to be another tough year for Riverbank schools, and Riverbank Unified School District board members were slated to get a close look at the proposed 2010-2011 district budget on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

In a study session slated for 2 p.m., after The News went to press, School Superintendent Ken Geisick said board members were scheduled to get an overview of the governor's proposal for schools for the coming fiscal year and determine how that might impact Riverbank.

"We'll be looking at what reductions we may need to consider," Geisick said. "What we need to cut to balance the budget."

One time stimulus funds that were available for 2009-2010 are gone now, and that could mean deeper cuts than were necessary for the current school year. Still, officials are reluctant to make any firm decisions right now.

"The budget picture seems to change daily," Geisick pointed out.

When working on the budget for this school year, officials notified 12 teachers that they were in danger of losing their jobs. It didn't end up being that many, Geisick said, but schools typically plan for the worst case scenario.

By the time reductions were made to balance the budget, the equivalent of three-and-a-half teaching posts were cut, in addition to other hits in administration, the central office and clerical support.

"We were in fairly good shape," Geisick said of escaping the tough budget year with minimal cuts to staff.

Part of the workshop Tuesday, and those that will follow, will deal with potential staff reductions and program adjustments. Teachers must be notified by March 15 whether their job is in jeopardy. The 'pink slips' must go out by then but, as has happened in the past, getting a pink slip doesn't automatically mean the position will be cut. By law, teachers have to be notified if there is the possibility of a job cut.

"We can always pull them back," Geisick said, noting that's what happened with most teachers who got a pink slip last year.

The 2 p.m. budget study session was held prior to the board's regular 5:30 p.m. board meeting on Tuesday.

"We like to allow a couple of hours for the study session," said Geisick.

Additional workshops are anticipated as the district negotiates its way through the budget process. Geisick said no action was anticipated at the Tuesday session, which basically was designed to be a status report for the board.

On the bright side, work is continuing on a housing development across Claus Road from Riverbank High and Geisick said when that is completed, the district will likely see an influx of students from the low- to moderate-income housing, bringing in additional ADA dollars for those students.

Among the items on the regular board meeting agenda Tuesday were a presentation by Mesa Verde Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Association, action on several board policies covering a variety of personnel issues from staff development to dress and grooming, and acceptance of the retirement resignation of Riverbank High library technician Karen Esparza, effective in July.

A closed session was also scheduled, including negotiations with the Riverbank Teachers' Association.