FUSD anticipates job cuts or furloughs

Fresno Unified School District trustees on Wednesday adopted a $975 million budget for the upcoming school year that includes more job cuts if employees don't agree to furlough days.

The district is working to close a $35 million budget shortfall in the 2010-11 budget. Its budget proposals include eliminating 255 classified positions and reducing the hours of 49 classified employees. Classified jobs that could be cut include bilingual instructional assistants, office clerks and health assistants.

Only about 100 of the 255 positions are now filled, said Ruth Quinto, deputy superintendent. She also said most of the job cuts could be avoided if bargaining groups accept furloughs.

"The budget calls for the reduction in salaries through furlough days or layoffs," she said.

Quinto said talks with the California School Employees Association, which represents the district's classified employees, have been positive and are ongoing.

The district already has made a number of spending cuts, including eliminating about 200 temporary and probationary teaching positions. About 145 teaching jobs are being eliminated through attrition, but the district had to lay off 55 teachers, Quinto said.

"It's obviously been a very difficult and challenging phase," Quinto told trustees, referring to recent state revenue cuts to schools.

In recent months, Fresno trustees voted to trim $17 million by increasing class sizes, which resulted in fewer teaching jobs. They sliced another $17.5 million by combining mentoring and beginner teacher assistance programs, as well as trimming central office expenses.

The increased class sizes will eliminate about 200 of approximately 4,000 teaching jobs.

The move to eliminate the classified jobs was approved at the start of Wednesday's meeting. Classified employees only require a 45-day notice for layoff.

"There is no way around it. We are impacting our employees. We are impacting our students," said trustee Michelle Asadoorian.

In the upcoming school year, employees will be asked to take at least two or three furlough days, depending on their job classification -- equivalent to a 1.08% pay cut.

Trustees voted last month to give themselves a pay cut equal to the roughly 1% that employees will lose due to furlough days next school year. Trustees will lose about $194 of their $18,000 annual stipend with the cut.

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