Dear Whittier Union Parents, Employees and Community Members,
Although a great deal of uncertainty continues to surround the state budget for the coming year, I am elated to be able to provide you with some good news regarding Whittier Union’s budget outlook for 2011-12.
Thanks to the effective leadership of our dedicated Board of Trustees, employee associations, and 50-member Budget Review Committee, the District is now able to rehire 44 of the 50 teachers and counselors who were laid off in May in addition to one counselor who was laid off in 2010.
This achievement comes as the result of months of hard work and open dialogue on a District-wide level to arrive at the cost-cutting measures necessary to bring back as many teachers as possible. The benefit to our students as the result of these diligent efforts cannot be overstated.
Whittier Union had to cut $4.5 million from its 2011-12 budget due to the impact of the past four years of significant state funding reductions. Since 2007-2008, Whittier Union’s revenues have been cut by $17 million. As a result, we faced a deficit that had to be addressed.
In order to reach $4.5 million in budget reductions, we worked together with our Budget Review Committee and employee associations on making more cuts to the operations budget, implementing an early retirement incentive and arriving at a renegotiated salary schedule which maintains employee salaries at their current level.
The cost-saving change to the salary schedule was achieved by our employee associations who put Whittier Union’s students’ and colleagues’ interests above their own and selflessly voted to renegotiate their salaries in order to help bring as many of our teachers back to our classrooms as possible. This is on top of a 3% across-the-board salary cut made in 2009.
I want to emphasize that this would not have been possible without the culture of mutual trust and respect that continues to grow over time in Whittier Union despite the prolonged state fiscal crisis.
Trust is the foundation of our immensely valued culture. The honest and healthy relationships we have among all members of our District are vital to our mission to ensure the well-being and academic achievement of our students and also provide for a quality environment in which to learn and work. We are committed to nurturing and investing in our culture of trust.
Yet I must also continue to express my deep concerns about the road ahead as state legislators continue to raise the specter of more funding cuts to education.
It appears that the Governor and Democratic legislators have crafted a budget that avoids a new round of deep cuts to education for the time being. But if the revenue picture they are banking on does not materialize, we may face $1.75 billion in mid-year reductions to California’s schools in addition to $2.1 billion in added deferrals.
We have had to make extensive budget cuts since 2007, and while Whittier Union has proven to be a resilient learning organization, I feel that we are being stretched to our limit.
While our District will persevere in serving the students of our community extremely well, I am concerned that the momentum we have gained in student academic achievement will begin to diminish if we are forced to make more financial sacrifices. We must have the necessary resources to sustain our efforts and more state funding cuts will jeopardize our hard work.
Yet I am heartened by the dedication of our highly competent, collegial, and dedicated team of classified and certificated staff who made significant personal sacrifices in order to bring back their colleagues. Together with our experienced Board of Trustees, all of us at Whittier Union remain passionate about preparing our students for a bright future and are keeping learning as our highest priority.