Good news for state education funding
February 21, 2014After the last several years of financial woes that have plagued the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District and public education across the state of California, funding for the 2014-15 school year is finally looking optimistic.
At the meeting of the school board on Feb. 13, Chief Business Officer Julie Kimball gave a presentation on Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget.
"State funding for education is $6.3 billion higher than in 2013-14," Kimball explained of the governor's proposed budget. With an additional $3.3 billion provided in one-time funding from prior years, VCPUSD is poised to be in strong financial shape next year.
"The governor's proposal is very good news, a welcome change from the last six years," said Kimball. The governor has also proposed $4.5 billion to continue implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, which would bring VCPUSD past one-third of the way to full implementation.
The state legislature will now make their own revisions to the governor's proposed budget, and the updated proposal released in May should give a clearer picture of final projections.
Jerry Fenton, president of the Valley Center-Pauma Teachers' Association, jumped on the good news and continued his push to get an 8 percent increase in employee salaries next year.
"Things look good in this school district," said Fenton. "In fact, next year the percent increase in funds to this district will be the largest in the history of the district."
According to Fenton, VCPSUD employees received a 2 percent salary increase last year, 1.5 percent less than the average for the state of California. He once again urged the board to consider an 8 percent salary increase next year, what he believes will be in line with the average salary increase across the state.
The meeting was also Fenton's last time speaking before the board because he is coaching track meets on Thursday nights and is retiring at the end of the year. He thanked the board for their "willingness to listen to me and to work with me. As a group together we weathered a tremendous financial storm."
Also at the meeting, Sarah Songer was recognized as the VCPUSD Teacher of the Year and Cort Day was recognized as the VCPUSD Classified Employee of the Year.
"I have been in Sarah's classroom many, many times, and every time I walk into that class she is just energetic and everywhere," said Superintendent Dr. Lou Obermeyer. Songer teaches 4th grade at Pauma School.
Day has been with the district for two years as a computer support technician, and Obermeyer praised his ability to explain technology to non-techies on a level they can understand.
"Cort is a person you can depend on to get things done quickly, efficiently, and always with a smile on his face," said Obermeyer.
Finally, speaking on behalf of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Interest Group, Jon Vick urged the board to reach a settlement with the CCC Interest Group in the ongoing legal battle over the proposed sports field project, and address issues the group has identified in the draft environmental impact report.
"The report fails to adequately acknowledge the previous presence and historical significance of the CCC buildings, the buildings' intact foundations and that the removal of the foundations is part of the project and should be part of the project description," said Vick. "There is simply no reason to continue fighting this matter and incurring attorney fees when a mutually agreeable solution that will be good for the community is available."
Dr. Obermeyer was unable to comment on the matter as the issue is currently in litigation.
The next regular meeting of the school board will be held on March 13 at 6 p.m. in the VCHS Multi-Media Center.