Eight furlough days identified for 2010-11

In the latest step to resolve a projected budget deficit caused by California’s fiscal crisis, IUSD has scheduled eight furlough days for the 2010-11 school year.

Superintendent Gwen Gross announced in an e-mail to the community Friday that the Irvine Unified School District will be closed on Sept. 1 (this had been a workday before the start of school); Nov. 22, 23 and 24 (these are the three days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday); Dec. 20 and 21 (these essentially add two days to the winter recess); and June 16 and 17 (these would have been the final two days of the 2010-11 school year). Additional adjustments were also made to ensure an adequate number of instructional days.

Though far from ideal, furloughs are considered critical for the district to withstand the impacts of the state budget crisis, which has stripped California’s schools of $17 billion over the last two years. The governor is also proposing another $2.5 billion hit to education for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

To cope with the drop in revenue, the IUSD Board of Education approved furloughs, as well as a number of other cost-saving measures, on March 16.

A representative committee determined the furlough dates for 2010-11 by plotting all major district events on a single calendar, as it did in identifying June 7, 8, 14, and 15 as furlough days for the current school year.

Here’s the full text of Dr. Gross’ e-mail:

Dear IUSD community member:

This week, a committee representing teachers, principals, classified staff, administrators and PTA reviewed a district‐wide calendar of school events to determine furlough days for 2010-11. I’d like to share that a consensus was reached on the following dates:

  • Sept. 1. This will no longer be a workday for teachers at sites on traditional calendars. Instead, teachers will report for the first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 2, along with students.
  • Nov. 22, 23 and 24. All IUSD schools will be closed the entire week of Thanksgiving, rather than just Nov. 25 and Nov. 26.
  • Dec. 20 and 21. All IUSD schools will shut down two days earlier at the winter recess, which begins Dec. 20 and ends on Jan. 4. Students and staff are scheduled to return from the break on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011.
  • June 16 and June 17. Furlough days will also be observed on these dates, effectively ending the school year two days earlier.

Meanwhile, to meet the state minimum of 175 instructional days, two student-free days on the calendar have been converted to regular school days. Oct. 18, which had been scheduled as a staff development day, is now a standard school day for all IUSD sites. In addition, a floating student-free day – this was to be used as a conference day for elementary schools and a non-student teacher workday at the secondary level – has been cancelled for 2010-11.

While classified staff was represented on the committee that identified these dates, it’s important to note that IUSD and the California School Employees Association, which represents classified employees, have yet to conclude negotiations for 2010-11. All changes to compensation and the work year remain subject to a final contract agreement.

Once again, the decision to implement furlough days was not one taken lightly. We remain mindful of the sobering reality that furloughs equate to the loss of instructional time for students, and they represent lost compensation for all of our employees. At the same time, we believe this measure and other approved reductions are critical for our district to survive the precipitous drop in revenue as a result of California’s fiscal crisis.

You will recall that furlough days have already been scheduled for the current school year. Using a similar process, a representative committee determined that all IUSD schools will be closed on June 7, June 8, June 14 and June 15. Combined, the 12 furlough days will save our district approximately $8.6 million, negating the need for even deeper reductions and heavy job losses.

It’s hard to believe we are already in April, and I know that many of our students and staff are looking forward to their well deserved break. In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your patience and support.

As we’ve seen in headlines and on the news, we are certainly not alone in our circumstances, and in fact many other districts are now following Irvine’s lead.

IUSD still has its share of challenges, yet we know they are merely temporary setbacks – and they are certainly no match for the passion and resolve of our staff and our community.


Dr. Gwen E. Gross

To view the calendars for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, click here. For more information on California’s budget crisis and its impact on IUSD, click here. For more information on furloughs, click here.