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Lodi Unified School District plans to cut $8.2 million

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Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 10:00 pm

Teachers, nurses and other community members reasoned and pleaded with Lodi Unified's budget advisory committee Wednesday night at the district office to reconsider some of the options it has proposed to account for its expected $8.2 million reduction in funding.

Last week, Lodi Unified School District released a list of options suggesting where it might make cuts. Those options included eliminating the class-size reduction program at the third-grade level, making deep cuts to transportation and doing away with senior projects.

Members of a crowd of approximately 45 people opposed just about every option proposed on the list.

Claudine Stanbridge, third-grade teacher at Heritage Elementary School, said erasing class-size reduction at the third-grade level would be a huge mistake for the district.

Currently, classes at the primary grade levels have approximately 20 students. That number could shoot up to 31 if the board decides to go through with the cut.

Stanbridge said studies show that students are more engaged academically and socially in smaller class sizes and that teachers have more opportunity to reach out to troubled students.

Stanbridge was also the only speaker who offered alternative ideas to the district, including cutting the associate superintendent position, reducing energy consumption and charging an athletic participation fee.

Half a dozen white-coated school nurses came to the meeting to speak out against cutting five full-time positions out of their 15-member staff.

"Losing our nurses would be catastrophic," said Marty Marshall, a credentialed school nurse, who oversees nine schools.

"We are looking over the edge of a cliff right now."
- Michael Self, spokesman for the Stockton Builders Exchange, talking about his fear that the district will cut construction classes.

"It's not only going to be devastating to our school, it's going to be devastating to our community."
- Steve Jordan, staff member at Liberty High School, about possibly losing a teacher and a librarian at the school.

"This is just unacceptable, because the kids never get the cuts back."
- Susan Heberle, teacher at Tokay High School.

"Senior year, our classes don't just disappear."
- Jennylee Beckham, Lodi High School senior, opposing senior projects.

"It's not meant to be a road block. It's meant to be an incredible opportunity."
- Jennifer Cassel, Bear Creek High School senior project coordinator, supporting senior projects.

"Make your legacy taking care of children. This is your legacy."
- Ron Heberle, community member and husband of teacher Susan Heberle, speaking to the budget advisory committee.

"This committee is really anguished over these cuts."
- Wayne West, chairman for the Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee.

The nurses serve roughly 30,000 students in Lodi Unified's 350-square-mile attendance area, 18.4 percent of which require some type of intervention, such as medication management.

Nurses also do screening to detect problems such as scoliosis.

"We can't just say we don't have the funds to provide nursing services to students," Marshall said. "And students don't check their health concerns at the door."

Ivan Tunnell, an elementary school counselor, said the $540,256 the district might cut from elementary counseling amounts to approximately six full-time counselors.

Those counselors, he said, offer crisis counseling to students, small group counseling for students dealing with problems from divorce to anger management, parent and staff education and support, as well as a number of other services.

Tunnell said in 20 years, Lodi Unified has cut the number of elementary counselors, while it has expanded the number of schools by 10.

"We're basically just putting out fires," Tunnell said about his colleagues' inability to offer adequate prevention services.

Carol Bratton, a veteran bus driver for Lodi Unified, painted a grim picture of what might happen if the proposed cuts to the transportation department ended up in the final budget.

Among the safety concerns Bratton listed were high school students driving on Highway 12, students walking along Eight Mile Road and other students trying to find a way to cross Highway 99.

"I can't put a price tag on safety for any child," Bratton said.

There was one speaker who spoke out in favor of a cut.

Lodi High Junior Jennylee Beckham, 17, said she would go along with eliminating senior projects.

Beckham said senior projects are an added burden to an already busy year for seniors.

She said some people even faint because of the stress. Others don't take the project seriously enough for it to serve its purpose.

"If students don't have passion … what's the point?," Beckham asked.

But just as soon as Beckham sat down, Jennifer Cassel, senior project coordinator at Bear Creek High School, stood up to make her case for the projects.

Cassel said she has seen students get jobs as a result of doing the projects and make contacts that they keep well into college.

"I think a senior project is what a student makes of it," she said.

Contact reporter Amanda Dyer at amandad@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 11:21 am on Sun, May 4, 2008.


    To dyan: I think you are forgetting the "million dollar" increase in pension for our Supe's 90 day stint as our unelected, probationary interim Superintendent.

  • posted at 3:02 am on Sun, May 4, 2008.


    dyan, where is your citation on these salaries? The majority of teachers now have less than 5 years exeperience and do not make that much money. Because the District continues to cut money from the sites, many teachers use their own money for supplies. Also the teachers pay a big chunk for health care, when it is your kids getting them sick. Why do teachers have to pay for benefits? The Big salaries are at the district office. Big pay for the least amount of work.

  • posted at 5:58 am on Sat, May 3, 2008.


    80% of a district's budget are salaries and benefits. Teachers' unions cry about low salaries and that California does spend enough on public education, but what they fail to tell you is California is # 3 from the top in the nation on salaries, right behind New York and Connecticut.

  • posted at 6:06 pm on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Whoa Nellie!: We need to trim the fat and the senior project is "fat" that needs to be trimmed. It's not important enough to keep and then cut something else. Don't get rid of things like woodshop, metal shop, art, PE or music etc. Cut this senior project. It's simply not necessary. Cut Ms Cassel's job. That will save some money.

  • posted at 1:42 pm on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Administration! The last thing they'll willingly cut. Ask how many retired principals, et.al. are on the payroll (you know, CONSULTAMTS) getting fat and contributin nil.

  • posted at 11:27 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Cut out bilingual.

  • posted at 10:22 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Why do schools need both a principal and a vice principal and along with them come separate assistants? Seems like with the computer age and software these positions could be reduced to one principal and one computer. When I was in school the principal was also a teacher and boys counselor. And, along with the computer technology and software programs, why have so many different personnel positions been created?

  • posted at 9:48 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Hey anybobdy thought of all the familys that receive FREE LUNCHS ! Maybe they need to tighten that up. If you can't afford to give your kid $2 for lunch then skip the morning mocha. This free lunch system sucks and people are abusing it !!

  • posted at 9:07 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Ivan Dixon? As in the African American who played Sgt. Kinchloe in "Hogan's Heros"??????

  • posted at 9:05 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    There is plenty of fat to cut @ LUSD. Too many non-teaching personnel on E.VineSt for one.Having judged the Senior Projects at Lodi High for 2yrs I would encourage LUSD to keep it. Yes, as Cassel states, "It's what the student makes of it." Of the 16+ I've seen only two come to mind that it was obvious the student did not put out any effort at all. Oral & Written Communications Skills are needed for almost all jobs. And with the decline of the English language due to text messaging we need the projects!

  • posted at 7:51 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    The school administration is sort of like a mushroom, big and fat on top. Cut from the top, not at the bottom. Do away with duplicate high paying beaucracy. We don't need the fluff.

  • posted at 7:40 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Of course Ms Cassel would oppose to cutting the senior project. She would lose her position. I say cut the senior project. It wasn't in place years back and we all did fine without it.

  • posted at 7:08 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Quit your whining!Why should we pay for public servants when we can just make them all public slaves?

  • posted at 6:47 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    I suggest doing the same thing the city should do. Cut all employees back to either 32 or 36 hour work weeks. What do corporations and businesses do when they start losing value? Stiff their stockholders? Give the execs a raise? Slow down production? No. They either fire, layoff or cut back the hours of their employees. The admin side is run like a business, so let's treat it like one and be realistic. The first and foremost solution would be a complete audit by an outside firm to see where every penny is spent and by whom and which department it's accountable to. I don't think that'll ever happen, though.

  • posted at 6:37 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Ivan, you are crazy! My spouse is a teacher and she makes just a moderate salary, barely enough for us to support our own child and live. Would you go to school for 4 plus years, work all day and night grading papers for free??? Get real. It is a job ya know!

  • posted at 6:24 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    When any one of you administrators can justify funding for your administration and cut all pork and unnecessary spending, then I'll listen to you about cutting class sizes and layoffs or cutbacks of any personnel that it takes to run the classrooms. I don't believe there is a one of you that could do that without exposing the waste that comes from the administration side.

  • posted at 6:18 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    What we consider waste and pork, they consider necessity because they've been in the piggy bank too long without someone holding them accountable. Rather than appointing normal everyday citizens to any watchdog comittees or panels, it's always the well connected and same old family names and ties. Until there's an appropriation committee appointed to actually approve funds or funding, no matter how small, and comprised of Lodians who really care, and permanent cutbacks to the already overloaded administration and its staff, nothing will change. All the money spent to reduce class sizes and buy all those trailers instead of building permanent additions will be completely wasted by throwing them away.

  • posted at 5:11 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    First- School board trustees should take the lead by eliminating their pay.Second- cut the fat, like SR.ProjectsThird -Since roughly 85% of the budget is in payroll, reduce ALL employees pay with higher paid personnel taking a higher reduction in pay. (Although all educators say its about the children when it comes done to its not)

  • posted at 4:43 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    nice public school system sucks already now you are going to make it suck more!

  • posted at 4:35 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    There's an easy solution to this whole problem.Lets have the teachers teach for free.Why should these people get paid to teach our children?They can make plenty of money working part time jobs after school and during the summer.I, for one, am sick of their whining.

  • posted at 4:09 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    If you want to look at wasted educational resources. Look at these Links.LUSD--> http://www.lodiusd.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=144&Itemid=83and the San Joaquin County Office of Education--> http://www.sjcoe.org/depts/Look familiar? Now lets look at the state CDE--->http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/or/THE SAME THING ONLY MORE LAYERSNow lets also look at www.fcmat.org (California) and we see more layers here.http://www.fcmat.org/stories/storyReader$588HERE IS ANOTHER LAYER.www.casbo.org and http://www.casbo.org/displaystaff.cfmLayers and layers of CALIFORNIA NON-TEACHERS keeps the "tax and spend" Edu-o-cracy in billions.And with ALL of this "support", the LUSD ESC charges a "fee or markup" for classroom paper and supplies as poster "Giovanina" says. This FEE is outrageous AND dishonest. "This is FOR THE KIDS"?

  • posted at 3:56 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.



  • posted at 3:38 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Most of the "non-teaching" jobs in the LUSD are already duplicated at the San Joaquin Office of Education. So, when I recommend "contracting out", it should be to an organization such as the SJCOE WHICH IS ALREADY DOING THE SAME WORK. The SJCOE is also layered with Educrats who DO NOT TEACH. Lets get them busy doing some work. Many of the C&I positions are multiple layered at EACH district, county and state level. The state mandates the Framework, Standards and Curriculum. Annual assessments are based on the above. Duplication and Layering = Waste

  • posted at 3:26 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Perhaps we can start trimming the fraud waste and abuse at the Areida center? Every non-teaching job should be reviewed. Here is a short list. CO= Contract Out S=state C= County 1) Personnel Services - CO 2) Payroll -CO 3) Risk management- CO 4)Purchasing -CO 4) Accounting -CO 5) Accounts payable -CO 6) Purchasing -CO 7) Business office -CO 8) Assessment Research and Evaluation - S 9) Curriculum and Instruction - S 10) Professional Development - S 11) BTSA-state 12) Food Service - CO 13) Community Relations/prevention- S 14)Child Welfare and attendance = C

  • posted at 3:10 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Well it figures! If administration are the ones coming up with the ideas, they are going to make sure they protect themselves. They never look at cutting their own travel or expense accounts, subscriptions, memberships, cutting-edge technology, blackberries, Iphones, meals, remodeling their offices...these are more important than providing services to students. It's kinda like the fox in charge of the henhouse.

  • posted at 3:09 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Instead of making cuts at the highest level where they most need to be made, LUSD royalty would rather throw the students and teachers under the bus, along with the bus drivers. The true colors of the decision makers are embarrassingly evident. Money and power have been and continue to be the priority rather than a quality education for the students of Lodi.

  • posted at 3:03 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Audi 5000, well said.

  • posted at 2:55 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    An effective weight-loss program accurately targets the area of fat and flab. In LUSD's case, the fat is at the administrative level and not at the classroom/student level. What if we cut one Superintendent position? With salary, expense account, and benefits, that would pretty much take care of the proposed cut. If that's not enough, cut another Superintendent position. They wouldn't be missed as they have no direct connection with the classroom and students.

  • posted at 2:51 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Senior projects are a joke. If a kid can do the paper the night before and still pass, this was not a stretch.Cut nurses, if you have a student that is sick at the highschool they make you or an adult stay up there with them anyway.Cut the FAT, at the DO!!!Some cuts need to be made, stop buying new curriculum all the time. Cut discretionary spending by the DO. Salaries at the DO need to be looked at closely, they are not at school getting their hands dirty.

  • posted at 2:47 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Most students do their senior projects at the very last possible moment. It is not this amazing project that make the students so much better. They do not keep kids focused in school.and why do we need aperson to sit in an office all day making a 6 figure salary, when the students' education they "care so much about" is being jeopordized? if they really cared about the kids, they wouldnt ask for 6 digits and keep that money in shop classes at Tokay or Drafting classes at Lodi. These are the things that keep kids coming to school. NotSr.Project.

  • posted at 1:43 am on Thu, May 1, 2008.


    Yes, cut the Associate Supers position. Plus cut the Vine Street Office's supplies. And stop allowing the district to buy school supplies at a volume discount, then turn around and sell them back to the school site a retail, or higher price. How much money are they making off the schools with that trick? This needs to be investigated.



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