Budget reduction vote postponed until March 16

The Board of Education’s scheduled vote on proposed budget reductions for 2010-11 has been postponed until Tuesday, March 16.

In an e-mail that went out Tuesday to the community and staff, Superintendent Gwen Gross explains that IUSD and the Irvine Teachers Association have reached a tentative agreement that includes furlough days this year and next, but the accord still must be ratified by ITA members. Citing the need to ensure adequate time for the ratification process, Board action on the budget has been postponed.

Here’s the full text:

Dear IUSD community member:

With the month of March rapidly approaching, our district and our Board of Education have some difficult decisions to make in order to close the projected $20 million budget gap brought on by the state’s fiscal crisis. At this critical juncture, I’d like to share a few of the latest developments.

Perhaps most noteworthy, you may have heard that the Irvine Teachers Association and the Irvine Unified School District have reached a tentative contract agreement that includes four furlough days for 2009-10 and eight furlough days for 2010-11. This marks a significant step, but the agreement still requires ratification by ITA’s membership. To ensure adequate time for this important process, the decision has been made to postpone the Board’s scheduled vote on budget reductions until Tuesday, March 16.

Our Board was originally set to vote on reductions at its meeting on Tuesday, March 2. Yet our negotiations with ITA, as well as those with our classified bargaining group, represent a significant piece of the fiscal puzzle for 2010-11, and it is imperative that our Board and staff have a complete picture of projected revenue and expenditures before budget adjustments are made.

I recognize that this has been an extremely anxious time for our staff, our students and our parent community. For that reason, it has been our intent to take action and communicate our plans as quickly as possible – particularly when lives and careers may be impacted. We also are required to meet a number of early statutory deadlines, including the March submission of our Second Interim Report, which signals our district’s ability to meet all financial obligations.

Despite the two-week postponement, we remain confident we will still meet all state requirements. More important, we believe it is in our collective interest to have as much clarity as possible moving forward.

In the meantime, the extra two weeks will enable the Irvine Public Schools Foundation to extend the deadline on its campaign to raise money for 2010-11. IPSF has had a great response to its “Five Week Campaign,” which is generating funds to mitigate the impacts of potentially larger class sizes in IUSD. For more information, please visit www.ipsf.net.

Note that we will still have a Board of Education meeting on March 2. At that session, the Board will vote on whether to release IUSD’s temporary certificated employees at the end of the current school year. Please know that this action in no way represents a decision regarding specific program cuts or staffing for 2010-11. Rather, the release of teachers on temporary assignments is a yearly practice in IUSD, as it is in many districts, to ensure maximum flexibility in an environment of fiscal uncertainty.

As always, thank you for your continued patience and participation in this process. For more information on the state budget crisis and its impact on IUSD, please click here. For a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions about the budget, click here.


Dr. Gwen E. Gross