Education

The West Sonoma County Union High School District Board of Trustees would like to provide the update below to our community. We hope our community is staying healthy and finding ways to manage through this difficult time while sheltering in place.

Negotiations 

The West Sonoma County Union High School District is pleased to announce that we have settled negotiations with all of our employee bargaining units through the school year 2020-2021. 

Our classified employees were the latest group to reach an agreement. They will receive the same salary increase that was agreed upon by all other employee groups in the district: 2% retroactive for July 2019, 2% retroactive for January 2020; 2% this July (2020) and 2% January in 2021. In addition, classified employees will continue to contribute 10% to their medical benefits. Dental and vision benefits will continue to be fully covered by the district for all employees. 

Our confidential and administrative staff also settled in January, and their contract was ratified by the Board of Trustees at our April meeting. Our district values all employees and recognizes that our students deserve the best possible education we can provide. In an area with a high-cost of living, administrators, teachers and support staff look at compensation packages when comparing employment opportunities. Please note: the Superintendent does not receive 100% health care coverage as was stated. Administrators, confidential and management staff have a cap on their benefits.

We are hopeful our settled negotiations will ensure our schools remain staffed by our remarkable employees that make up the fabric of our West County community.

West Sonoma County Union High School District

Budget Reductions 

On April 8, the Board approved budget reductions to support a worst-case scenario given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the state budget and school funding.  The forecasts coming from the Governor’s May Budget Revision have budgets looking very different from January, thus staff presented three scenarios for consideration:

1. Based on our Second Interim Budget, 2020-21 planned cuts: Minimum $400,000 in reductions needed.

2. Governor’s May Revision shows no COLA: An additional $450,000 in reductions needed.

3. Governor’s May Revision presents a dire outlook: An additional $500,000 in reductions are needed. ($1.35 million total reductions needed.) 

The prioritized list of budget reductions under consideration for our district include reductions far away from the classroom such as a change in health care providers, special education program changes, district office staffing reductions and a reduction in site administrative staff. Items directly related to the classroom are the last to be reduced and the first to be restored. We will continue to make adjustments based on information in the Governor’s May Revision and subsequent changes California may make throughout the year. 

For a bit of good news! While 7.2 positions were slated for cutting we'd like to announce we have already reinstated the following positions since the March preliminary layoffs – these equate to a total of 5.4 FTE for our next school year, more than we originally anticipated being able to bring back:

.80 FTE Science

.20 FTE Math

.40 FTE Social Science

.20 FTE Special Education

.60 FTE PE

.80 FTE English

.80 FTE Art

.40 FTE Woodshop

.20 FTE Video

1.0 FTE Counseling

(Editor's Note: FTE stands for full-time equivalent, so 1 FTE represents one full-time position.)

Measure B 

Thank you to all the West County voters for passing Measure B. We are privileged to have earned our community's support at the ballot box once again. Measure B provides funding for direct classroom support, enabling programs such as woodshop, culinary, media and career technical education programs, along with art, music and drama. Measure B also enabled us to implement a pay increase for our certificated teachers, per negotiations this past fall. Measure B funds at no time have or will be used for administrative pay, as this is directly prohibited in the language of the measure itself.

Budget cuts and administrative salaries 

The board of trustees did take action in our April 8 Board Meeting to reduce spending based on budget projections coming from the state as part of our plan to help maintain fiscal solvency. 

These cuts have prompted the question: Should the superintendent and all administrators accept their salary increase given the current situation? To be clear, we have not asked one employee or employee group to return their salary increase. Teachers, office managers, custodial workers, have all received the same salary increase, and they have not been asked to return it. We will not single out one employee or employee group with such a request. 

Further, I am very confident that Superintendent Beal and all of our administrators are working hard serving our district. During this pandemic time, all administrators are working diligently to oversee the challenges of distance learning and addressing the digital divide in our community. We value our superintendent’s skills and leadership, and will lean on her and all administrators to guide our district in these extraordinarily uncertain times.

Last January, no one could have predicted the pandemic and all its implications to education, yet here we are. It will take all of us working together as a community to make it through. 

On behalf of the West County Union High School District board of trustees, I thank you for your ongoing support of our schools. Please contact Jeanne Fernandes if you have questions at jfernandes.do@wscuhsd.k12.ca.us.

The West Sonoma County Union High School District Trustees consist of board president Jeanne Fernandes, Kellie Noe, Diane Landry, Lori Bruhner and Ted Walker. 

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