As the new school year kicks off next week, the four schools of the Scotts Valley Unified School District will welcome back not only their students, but also six teachers whose jobs could have been lost to budget cuts.
The effect of Measure K, a parcel tax measure approved by voters during the June 5 primary election, is that the district will received funding to the tune of $290,000 for the upcoming year.
According to Superintendent Penny Weaver, the district is faced with state education funding cuts of as much as $450 per student, threatening layoffs and more densely packed classrooms.
“We laid off a number of positions due to general reductions to our budget,” Weaver said. “(With the funds), we’ve brought back five classroom teaching positions.”
While the whole of the $290,000 in Measure K funds was used to save five teachers’ jobs, Weaver said, class sizes at many grade levels will still increase, as the funds raised will not cover all the cuts handed down from Sacramento.
A sixth teaching position was saved from the ax by the retirement of Kathy Dunton, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction. The school district will not rehire for the position; instead, Dunton’s duties will be distributed among other employees, and the salary savings will be used to pay another teacher.
“We’re all having to take on more work,” Weaver said. “(Everything) is going into bringing teachers back into the classroom and out of layoff.”
Weaver estimated that the first checks from the measure would arrive in January, once all the reporting property owners’ claims and opt-outs are checked out by the county assessor’s office.
As of Aug. 14, 500 parcels of property were exempted from the $48 assessment, because the owners either receive disability payments or are of an age older than 65. The deadline to claim exemption for the first year of the tax passed Aug. 1; however, those who qualify can opt out of the two remaining years of the tax by contacting the district by June 30.
Weaver said the next step would be to recruit an oversight committee to monitor the uses of the tax money.
“I think the work and the investment of the parcel tax will help us continue our growth,” she said.
Weaver lauded the community for its dedication and for the efforts of district employees to weather financial crises.
“We have a staff who are sacrificing and really doing their part,” she said. “They could easily go over the hill and make $20- or $30,000 more per year — but they don’t.”