Friday, September 25, 2020

NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED WEEKLY ON WEDNESDAY • WEBSITE UPDATED WEEKLY FOR THURSDAY

Home News Williams Unified approves budget amid concerns over Trump

Williams Unified approves budget amid concerns over Trump

Williams Unified School District officials blamed the President of the United States for the district having to “tighten its belt,” but ultimately gave in to pressure from teachers and parents not to lay off paraeducators who prepare kindergarteners for first grade.

Although the school board previously tabled the elimination of four support positions until 2018-19, the cut list resurfaced on Thursday’s agenda.

School officials said the cut was needed to fund a special assignment teacher next year to train staff on the technology associated with the district’s new SOAR educational program.

The school board, however, ultimately voted to do both when it approved the district’s $15.7 million 2017-18 budget, which gives teachers and management staff a 3.4 percent pay raise, and allows for the hiring of a school nurse, a mental health counselor, and the certificated technology teacher to work outside the classroom on staff development.

“This year, we are solvent in our budget, but next year we’re not sure,” said Trustee George W. Simmons. “You’ve got Trump screwing around with the money, and you got the governor screwing around with the money, and we may get it back in the following year, or we may not get it back in the following year. There has to be a tightening of the belt.”

School officials said they were concerned about President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget, which could reduce education funding by 13.5 percent beginning Oct. 1.

Trump’s proposal, although not yet approved by the Senate, cuts programs and grant funding for teacher training, after-school and summer care, mental health services, and aid to low-income students, while boosting money for school vouchers and charter schools to allow parents more flexibility in school choice.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget boosts education spending for 2017-18, but educators fear it won’t be enough to offset future state and federal cuts.

Simmons said Williams Unified has relied heavily on grant funding to support programs and staff positions, knowing that the funding would eventually dry up.

“Paraeducators are important, but so are teachers,” he said.

But Kindergarten teachers said cutting support staff at the lower level should never be an option, because test scores show the district’s kindergarten program, which includes in-class support and intervention for struggling English language learners, is highly successful.

“Kindergarten results are mind blowing,” said teacher Keri Lovelady. “We went from one proficient student (at the beginning of the school year) to 86 at the end of the year. We are sitting on a group of kids that’s reading, and are ready for the demands of first grade.”

Frank Jerome, the district’s director of fiscal services, said the 2017-18 budget includes $1.2 million in federal revenue, which is up from last year.

However, the majority of the district’s funding (13.3 million) comes from the state through the Local Control Funding Formula, which will see a $391,658 increase over last year, Jerome said.

Forty percent of the district’s $15.7 million budget will go to teachers’ salaries, 13 percent to classified salaries, 19 percent to employee benefits, 7 percent to books and supplies, and 10 percent to buildings and other expenditures.

Board President Silvia Vaca, the only dissenting vote in favor of eliminating the paraeducator positions to fund the technology teacher, said it was a difficult decision for her to make, but that education funding remains too uncertain not to be cautious.

“As a board, we are sitting in a difficult position,” Vaca said. “We have to look at the budget, we have to look at what’s coming, and we have to look at what’s going on. I am a parent of two children in this district as well. It’s nothing against the students, and it’s nothing against the parents, but sometimes we have to make difficult decisions. We have to look at everything.” 

Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at susan@colusacountynews.net

More News

Colusa County Office of Education – Request for Proposals

COLUSA COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS The Colusa County Office of Education (CCOE) is accepting emailed bids for the bulk purchase of LTE Equipment...

Samuel Milton Mason (1944-2020)

It is with great sadness that we, the family of Samuel Milton Mason announce his passing on September 20, 2020 in Roseville, CA after...

CUSD working to get some students back to school

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed modern education in a way never before experience. For most schools in the state of California, getting students back to...

Quilters serve local needs, fire victims

Had it not been for a coronavirus pandemic, the Pacific Flyway Quilters would have held their annual Community Service Giveaway Night with a little...

Life, as I see it: Wind down

As the weather turns cooler and days begin to be shorter, I find myself winding down. The business of summer, the craving to spend...

Local Government

City grants permit for cannabis expansion

Colusa’s first cannabis nursery is now looking to expand operations to include full marijana cultivation. The Colusa City Council voted 4-1, on Sept. 15, to...

Local governments spending CARES to boost IT infrastructure

In order to reduce physical interaction between individuals in the era of Covid-19, local governments are using CARES Act funding to invest in better...

County appoints new Airport Advisory Committee

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 1 appointed seven members to the newly restructured Airport Advisory Committee. The previous committee of about 15...

Public & Legal Notices

City of Colusa – Notice of Public Hearing

CITY OF COLUSA CITY COUNCIL NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE CITY COUNCIL will hold a Public Hearing in the City Council...

City of Colusa – Notice of Public Hearing

CITY OF COLUSA CITY COUNCIL NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE CITY COUNCIL will hold a Public Hearing in the City Council...

County of Colusa – Notice of Vacancy – Colusa Cemetery District

COUNTY OF COLUSA NOTICE OF VACANCY Notice is hereby given that the Colusa County Board of Supervisors  is soliciting applications to fill a vacancy for an...

City of Colusa – Ordinance No. 542

CITY OF COLUSA ORDINANCE NO. 542 AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF COLUSA REZONING APPROXIMATELY 5.39 ACRES TO GENERAL COMMERCIAL PLANNED DEVELOPMENT...

Colusa County Resource Conservation District – Request for Statement of Qualifications for Contractors

COLUSA COUNTY RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICT REQUEST FOR STATEMENT OF QUALIFICATION FOR CONTRACTORS FOREST HEALTH PROJECT PHASE 1 IN COLUSA COUNTY The Colusa County Resource Conservation District...