The Riverbank Teachers Association (RTA) and the Classified School Employees Association (CSEA) are in negotiations with the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD). There was a school board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2 that included a budget update for 2015-16 but it was past press time for The News. Look for a follow up story in the Feb. 10 issue.
Prior to the meeting on Tuesday, however, RUSD Superintendent Daryl Camp shared some information on the District’s current fiscal condition. He explained that Riverbank Unified School District, in partnership with the community, is committed to maintaining high expectations for all students through: Providing high quality education through effective and rigorous instruction, Ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment, Embracing our diversity as a strength, Promoting creative expression, critical thinking and technological literacy, Encouraging school and community pride, Supporting a caring, experienced and qualified staff.
Also adding that the board “highly values their employees” and according to the strategic plan developed in March 2014, it is a high priority (second on the priority list) to “recruit, select, orient, develop, support, evaluate and retain the highest quality staff.” The district also looks to continuously “improve the processes of recruitment, selection, orientation, development, evaluation and retention of high quality staff.”
The first priority is the Fiscal Integrity and Accountability of the District, noted Camp. The board is committed to continuously design, develop, implement, and evaluate the short-term and long-range financial and human resource allocation system to ensure fiscal accountability and for the implementation of the goals and prioritized objectives of the District’s strategic plan.
There are three different levels that a budget can be classified as: positive, qualified and negative. A positive budget means the district will be able to meet its financial commitments the current year and subsequent two school years. A qualified budget means the district will be able to meet its financial commitments the current year, but may be able to meet its financial commitments the two subsequent school years. A negative budget means that a district will not be able to meet its financial commitments in the school year.
RUSD has a positive certified budget and from 2012 to 2014 the District had a qualified budget certification, according to Camp.
Due to the improving financial conditions, the District was able to restore furlough days in 2014-15 – one year earlier than expected and provide employees with a 2 percent raise on the salary schedule and a 1 percent bonus off the salary schedule.
The District continues to experience declining enrollment; although the decline seems to be leveling off, Camp added.
Some of the District’s accomplishments in the last few years that Camp listed are as follows: decrease class sizes in grades K-3, decrease grade 9 English class sizes at Riverbank High School, Increase Algebra Intervention classes and reduce Algebra class sizes, Restore Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) classes at Cardozo Middle School and Riverbank High School, Increase Secondary Counselor, Maintenance of Out-of-School Time opportunities, Increase English Learner Resource Assistants, Restore English Learner Coordinator, Increase Custodial Services at RHS, Increase Professional Development Opportunities focused on the new state standards.
“A few years ago educational experts told me that negotiations during the good times is actually more challenging than negotiating during bad times,” stated Camp. “Riverbank USD, like many school districts in the county and throughout the state, is faced with a number of challenging decisions on how best to allocated limited dollars to best serve students in the District.
“One of the most critical decisions is how much to spend on employee compensation. We invite the community, including our staff, to participate in the budget development process.”
Camp welcomed the community to attend board meetings or the regular community feedback meetings to become informed and weigh in on critical decisions. The next community meeting, called the Local Control and Accountability Plan meeting, is scheduled for March 10. One meeting will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Cardozo Middle School and another at 6 p.m. at the District Board Room.