The Yosemite Unified School District continued its belt tightening April 9 as they ratified an agreement with the California School Employees Association’s (CSEA) classified employee bargaining unit.
The classified employee bargaining unit represents custodians, bus drivers, office workers and other non-teacher positions.
In an effort to preserve positions and integrity of programs, CSEA and the district agreed to reductions and concessions that will save the district $189,300 annually in general fund spending.
CSEA agreed to cost-saving actions and reductions in classified positions, work year and work hours and the district agreed that the savings would mitigate the scope of the original projected layoffs which would have affected 15 employees.
Classified positions include non-teacher positions such as bus drivers, custodial personnel, office assistants and those working in food service.
The negotiated agreement means no pay increases based on years of experience and two furlough days for classified employees for each of the next two fiscal years.
The board approved position cuts of two campus supervisors, an alternative education support specialist, four custodians and a transportation secretary throughout the district that includes Yosemite High School and Coarsegold and Rivergold elementary schools.
A lead mechanic position will be reclassified as a mechanic position; an elementary secretary, a high school registrar and a lead adult-alternative education/registrar/secretary position will now each be 10-month positions and the high school registrar will now be an 11-month position. A total of 13 employees will be affected.
“The district and CSEA leadership successfully negotiated contract reductions resulting in a reduction from 15 planned position cuts to only eight,” said Berg. “The district is certain that number will reduce further before budget adoption in June.”
CSEA members had been working for about two years without a contract prior to the ratification of this agreement. This is not the first time the bargaining unit has given concessions to help the district balance its budget. In past years, they accepted 10 furlough days as well as giving up anniversary raises.
“The goal was to save all of our members’ jobs,” said Danielle Vawter, CSEA president. “I’m pretty pleased with the process. I feel like we went back to negotiating the way we used to. They [the district] trust us. We trust them.”
“We feel that they are trying to work out a way to fix us [the district] and I trust them to get us there. The atmosphere changed when Fred Cogan and now (Interim Superintendent) Mike Berg stepped in.”
Cogan was assigned by the Madera County Office of Education as an interim administrator until Berg could be hired to fulfill the Interim Superintendent role on March 12.
“It has been a Herculean effort on the part of the bargaining unit and the negotiating team,” Berg said in presenting the proposal to the board.
Second Interim Report “Qualified”
The cuts come after the district’s first interim report originally certified as “qualified” by the district and then changed to a “negative” status by the Madera County Superintendent of Schools office.
A “qualified” certification is assigned when the district may not meet its financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years. A “negative” certification is given when a district will be unable to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the current year or for the next fiscal year.
The second interim report, reflecting the fiscal health of the district through Jan. 31, was a “qualified” declaration by the district.
“The county is required to maintain the negative certification until all budget adjustments are approved in June despite evidence of significant progress in the meantime,” said Berg.
Recall election proceeding
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Anita Johnson, a coordinator of the Community Action Team, a group that has put in motion the process to recall YUSD board members Tammy Loveland and Christine Wilder, reported that the “recall election is proceeding as planned.”
“Stop lying and sugar coating the chaos you have caused,” she admonished the board. “You can’t pull a rabbit out of a hat and you cannot rip a bandaid off of this disaster.”
Peter Leinau also addressed the board asking for a public forum to discuss the results of a survey done to assess the possibility of placing a bond issue on the Nov. 2018 ballot. “We are still paying for facilities out of general fund money,” he said.
In other business, the board committed to a regular rotation of board meetings among three district sites: YHS, Rivergold Elementary School and Coarsegold Elementary School with the goal of making the board accessible to the various communities served.
The board gave Berg authority to open discussions and re-establish opportunities for Glacier High School and Mt. Home School students to attend YHS electives for a fee.
Following closed session, the following personnel changes were announced:
Ron Johnson was reassigned as principal of Coarsegold Elementary School effective May 1 - Judy Horn was reassigned as principal on special assignment to Alternative Education Programs and Educational Services effective May 1, and Marcia Miller was appointed interim chief academic officer effective immediately.