Faced with a possible $4 million state budget shortfall, the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District laid off 34 employees Wednesday, including library technicians and support staff, but delayed a decision on bus drivers. That action would have eliminated all transportation services, even for rural students.
Instead, school board members have asked for more budget information and will revisit the issue in May, according to board president John Gordon.
Meanwhile, the district is waiting to find out how much transportation funding it will be receiving from the state for the fall, and whether a statewide bond measure will pump more money into education.
"Unfortunately, without knowing the outcome of the potential election in November, our options to address the balance of the deficit are far and few between," Gordon said of the cut approved Wednesday. "It's important for our community to realize that Gov. Brown continues to keep school districts in the dark regarding whether California will continue to fund home-to-school transportation."
Only bus service for special education students is required by law.
Transportation services cost the district about $500,000 annually. Of that, the district typically receives approximately $211,000 from the state — although that could be cut, according to Debbie Schmidt, the district's director of business services. She has been receiving regular updates from the state on its plans.
On Wednesday, the board voted 6-0 to lay off four library technicians and two outreach consultants, reduce the number of gardeners from two to one — leaving a sole person responsible for maintaining all of the district's grounds. The board also eliminated 16 regular education instructional assistants and 11 special education instructional assistants, due to the change in needs as students move between grade levels or onto high school.
Trustee Kevin Papineau was absent.
Earlier this month, the school board and its classified staff ratified a contract that includes an additional five furlough days and a salary freeze for 2012-13. While that agreement and a similar one with certificated staff saved nearly $1 million and helped prevent school closures for 2012-13, it was not enough.
"The board is extremely grateful for our certificated and classified employee groups to move swiftly by continuing to make financial sacrifices for the greater good," Gordon said. "As part of the agreement, these savings will be directed to ensuring all schools remain open and K-6 music programs are protected."