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District leaders to take pay cuts

Hundreds of high school students may be without activities
By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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District superintendents and administrators stepped up to the plate with agreements to trim their salaries next year in an effort to help with the $8 million deficit. Rocklin Unified School District superintendents have agreed to a voluntary reduction in salary of 4 percent effective July 1. Senior management already reduced their compensation by .68 percent effective Jan. 1, 2009. The concession includes Superintendent Kevin Brown, as well as the deputy superintendent, associate superintendent and assistant superintendents. Rocklin Administrators Professional Association also agreed to take four furlough days for the 2010-11 school year in addition to a two-percent pay cut for the next two years. The concessions made by the two groups save the district approximately $200,000 in next year’s budget. “What a great feeling that we have leadership to step forward and help out in these times,” said board president Wendy Lang. The district is currently moving forward with possible cuts if no other employee concessions are made. With an $8 million district deficit, trustees say Rocklin schools will look different next year. What might the district look like next year? Music If no other salary concessions are made, the fourth- through sixth-grade music program will look quite different next year. By potentially letting go of one full-time equivalent music program teacher, the district is considering two options. It’s possible a music program will be diminished at the fourth-grade level. It’s also possible that the district may adopt a before- and after-school music program or a once-a-week program for fifth- and sixth-graders. Currently, students have two 30-minute music sessions a week. For music teacher Mike Hannickel, he said the children will suffer with either option. “It does create a lot of issues, but at least we have some sort of program intact,” he said. “Kids have to feel like they’re making progress to stay in something.” Hannickel said he sees implementation of a music program before and after school instead of within the school day will slash participation by approximately 90 percent. “It takes away the open access to all the kids who chose to participate,” he said. Transportation and money are part of the reason against a before- and after-school music program, as not every parent will be able to get their child to school early or pick them up later. Extra curricular activities Arguably one of the most noticeable aspects of the district’s cuts if no employee concessions are made, will be co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The district is looking into cutting co-curricular and extra-curricular activities at Rocklin and Whitney high schools as well as Granite Oaks and Spring View middle schools by 30 percent. The cuts are based on stipends. To reduce stipend amounts across the board, it takes an association approval. But the district is moving forward with possibly cutting individual stipends. At the middle school level, boys volleyball and girls softball may be canceled partially due to lack of student interest, said Marty Flowers, Spring View Middle School principal. Also in the middle schools, drama and fall and winter cheerleading will be affected by cuts. At the high school level, freshman football may be discontinued, as well as cuts at the freshman and junior varsity level for men’s and women’s soccer, water polo, basketball and other sports. Both Rocklin and Whitney high schools may lose one theatrical play, as well as stipends to fund mock trial and yearbook. Of the 700-800 students who participate in activities at the high school level, approximately 300 to 400 students will be affected by the cuts at the high school level, said Rocklin High School Principal Michael Garrison. “I wonder what 300 to 350 students are going to do after school,” Trustee Camille Maben said at last Wednesday’s board meeting. Health services A reorganization of health services may be in the district’s future. Under Option A, the district will cut 4.1 full-time equivalent positions from the health services staff. With the cuts, all mandated health services will still be performed, such as vision, hearing and scoliosis screenings and administration of medication, according to Betty Di Regolo, director of special education/special programs. What may change is the one-on-one interaction students receive with nurses, Di Regolo said. The district is considering either reducing or eliminating nurses aides and/or reducing or eliminating district school nurses and instead looking to contract out health services and employing other licensed health care personnel. One option is to reduce the nursing staff by 4.1 full-time equivalent positions and employ licensed vocational nurses in the schools. A health services specialist would then oversee training and coordinate the program. Under this option, there are strict things vocational nurses can not do such as hearing and vision screenings. School sites may have a licensed health care professional on a scheduled basis, Di Regolo said. School nurse Susan Firchau said she has grave reservations about the proposed program. Twin Oaks Elementary teacher Marcie Solomon has a child with cancer and was also concerned with the proposed changes. “We have students that come to our school with severe medical issues that range as high as cancers. Please consider those,” she said.