Clovis Unified pares budget by $1.25m

Clovis Unified School District trimmed another $1.25 million from its $28 million budget gap when trustees voted Wednesday night to reduce extra-duty stipends, leave jobs vacant and shift some costs in divisions such as catering and child care.

The district, which earlier had cut about $15 million, is considering cutting pay by 2% and instituting up to three furlough days for its 4,300 employees. The combined cuts would reduce employees' pay by more than 3.5%.

Each furlough day, which would fall on in-service days, would save about $800,000, said Kelly Avants, the district's spokeswoman.

The 2% wage cut would represent about $3.8 million, she said.

Clovis Unified School District trustees set an April 28 public hearing on the salary adjustments, which will be spread across administrators, teachers and classified employees.

In addition to salary adjustments, the district will consider using reserve funds and a second retirement incentive for employees to consider retiring early.

Last year, district employees received a 2% bonus when their insurance costs came in lower than expected. The money was not included as salary.

Step raises for the coming year are not proposed to be cut, Avants said. Those raises will offset about $3.4 million of the budget cuts.

Many long-term employees do not receive step raises, so cutting those increases would penalize employees at the lower pay levels, she said.

The salary cuts proposal triggered a second opportunity to encourage employees to take the retirement incentive this year, retiring when their pay is higher.

The district is awaiting word on the number of employees who will take the offer. In October, 115 employees took the previous offer, a savings of about $4.5 million. The deadline for the latest offer is next week.

In the past two years, cuts by the state and reduced property tax revenues have resulted in Clovis Unified receiving about $50 million less -- a reduction of more than 15% -- for its general fund, which pays for staffing and many basic operations of the 37,000-student district.