School superintendent discusses budget, more in advance of May 13 meeting
By Debra Moore
When the Plumas Unified School District board of trustees meets Wednesday afternoon, May 13, the elimination of 106 positions will be one of the topics discussed.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has discussed the $54 billion budget deficit that California faces and the impact that could have on schools and public safety.
Plumas Unified Superintendent Terry Oestreich is well aware of what that could mean locally and is addressing the issue. “We informed everyone that we’re looking at every position,” she said during a May 12 interview. She said she is trying to be transparent about all options, but that is difficult as no one really knows what the next school year is going to look like.
Will school be held in the classroom? Will it be all distance learning? Will it be some combination?
What she does know is that the latest direction from the state says that there can be only 12 students per 960 square feet — which is about the square footage of Plumas Unified’s classrooms. “That looks different in Greenville than it does in Portola or Quincy,” Oestreich said. It could mean that in the latter two, classes are staggered Monday, Wednesday, and Tuesday, Thursday for example.
A robust distance learning program must also be developed not only for parents who might choose not to send their students to school, but in the event in-class learning isn’t allowed either at the beginning of the school year or during the year.
Oestreich said that she remembered thinking a month ago that the biggest challenge the district faced was to come up with a grading plan, then the budget deficit loomed.
While there might be a need to eliminate positions due to budgetary concerns, unions have timelines for notification. For certificated staff (teachers), March 15 was one important deadline, but there is another window that could open in July if COLA (cost of living adjustment) is less than 2 percent.
The 106 positions up for deliberation tonight are classified staff, including librarians and nurses. But, it’s difficult to know what staff is needed if you don’t know if students will be learning at school or at home.
Oestreich said she is taking it day-by-day and working with the most current information that she receives. That information will be shared at tomorrow night’s meeting, which the public can attend virtually.
The Plumas County Office of Education is scheduled to hold its monthly meeting this Wednesday, May 13, at 4 p.m. with the Plumas Unified School District meeting to follow immediately after at approximately 4:15 p.m.
All Trustees and administrative staff will participate remotely from their homes due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements and the stay-at-home executive order. The public is invited to join by logging on through zoom or by calling 1-669-900-9128.
The meeting ID is: 945 5701 6262 Password: 752717
A portion of the school district meeting will be devoted to forming advisory committees as a statewide budget crisis looms. The agenda item reads: In order to address and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on school operations, families, and the district budget, advisory committees will be formed.