Teachers in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District this week recommended cutting nearly $1 million from administrative costs to help balance the district's beleaguered budget. The move would also prevent an administrative plan to cut teachers' salaries by 5%.
More than 150 teachers attended the district board meeting. Teachers union President Maya Decker asked the board to consider the suggestions and spare teachers' jobs and pay from cuts.
"We are asking you to see the priorities of the people in this room," said Decker, president of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers. "I sincerely hope in the coming months you will take to heart these budget recommendations and let them be reflected, not just this fall, but in future budgets as well."
The crowd of elementary, intermediate and high school instructors gave Decker a standing ovation, and shouted and clapped furiously when some of their colleagues also spoke to the board.
"It seems that you're sitting pretty while we see our friends and peers losing their jobs," said Barbara Toohey, a teacher at Killybrooke Elementary School. Toohey also presented the board with a petition supporting the teachers' recommendations that was signed by about a dozen members of the Killybrooke staff.
The teachers proposed sweeping cuts in administrative costs. For example, they recommend slashing almost $100,000 from the superintendent's department, including eliminating the district public relations director and cutting the salaries of some personnel. The plan targets other administrative departments by eliminating some staff assistants, reducing the amounts spent on supplies, conferences, publications and new equipment.
Last month, the district approved the elimination of 125 non-teaching positions and 34 teaching jobs. The non-teaching jobs include instructional aide positions.
An additional 30 teaching positions will also be cut. Instead of losing their jobs, however, those teachers will be reassigned to new positions.
The district is facing a $3.7-million shortfall that has been partially covered by the employee cuts and reductions in the costs of running some programs, such as the school farm and after-school athletics. But an estimated $1 million in additional cuts are still needed.
District officials Tuesday, however, gave the teachers' plan a lukewarm reception, saying many of the suggested administrative cuts had already been proposed.
"It does dismay me a little bit," board member Sherry Loofbourrow said. "Some of these are numbers we've already reduced."
Board President Forrest K. Werner told the teachers present that the board appreciated the group's suggestions. "We will take this under advice," he said.
The district is slated to hold a special meeting June 30 to pass the first version of the 1992-93 budget, which will likely be amended in following months.