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March 14, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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March 14, 2012
 

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, March 14, 2012 5A School closure committees speak with one voice Mihevc tooktlis point so state's estimate, Plumas Jason Theobald Staff Writer jtheobald@plurnasnews.com Representatives from each of the four 7-11, or School Closure and Consolidation, committees came together in a joint meeting Saturday, March 3. The meeting took place in the cafeteria at Greenville Elementary School, one of the Plumas County school sites that may face potential changes in the coming school year. The only action item on the agenda for the joint commit- tee was the discussion and ap- proval of commonalities be- tween the four committees. The bulk of the meeting, how- ever, was the public comment period. Daniel Haygood, a sopho- more at Quincy High School (QHS), spoke first. His speech did not discuss the possibility of school closures or consoli- dations. Rather, it discussed the layoff notices received by many teachers throughout Plumas Unified School Dis- trict (PUSD). Haygood spoke passionate- ly about the teachers at QHS, arguing, "Letting go of these teachers will hurt us in ways you (PUSD) have not thought of." Haygoo d continued, asking if every- thing that could be done to cut costs was being done in the district office, rather than jumping to the step of cutting teachers. This sentiment was echoed frequently during the public forum, and brought up in earnest by Mark Mihevc, who has expended long hours look- ing into the district's project- ed financial predicament. One of the points he brought to the joint committee meeting was the historical trend in PUSD budgets to overestimate ex- penses and underestimate revenues. far as to crunch the numbers and he came up with a vari- ance between the budgeted amount and actual expendi- tures based on the last three completed (audited) school years. A similar variance ex- isted between the budgeted revenues and actual revenues received, only in the case of the revenues the revenues re- ceived tended to exceed the revenues projected. Mihevc explained that if he applied the variances to the projected budget expenses and revenues for the upcom- ing 2012-13 school year, a year projected by PUSD to have a deficit of nearly $4 million, the deficit shrinks to less than just over $1 million. Mihevc admits that budgets are just a guess, but that for the past three years the vari- ance has held true. If it holds true again, the deficit may be far smaller than projected. In addition, he brought up the discrepancy between the projected student population numbers provided by Yvonne Bales, business director of PUSD/PCOE, and the Califor- nia Department of Finance. According to Mihevc, at a June 2, 2011, meeting of the PUSD Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC), Bales pro- jected that Plumas County will see a consistent decline in student enrollment. At a recent special meeting of the PUSD board of trustees, she reiterated the statement, adding that by the 2017-18 school year, the student en- rollment of Plumas County would likely hover near 1,200, a drop of more than 600 students from current levels. The Department of Finance, however, projects that the stu- dent enrollment of Plumas County will remain relatively fiat-lined through the next five school years. In the 4-H'ers sell enchiladas The American X)alley 4-H pig project is holding a take-home enchilada fundraiser Friday, March 30, 4:30 - 7 p.m. at La Sierra Lanes. Presale orders are '$5 for three enchiladas; at-the- door pricing is $6 for three enchiladas. For more information or to order, call 283-1633 or 927-9820. IT'S TIME ... We're ready when you are! DA-VID J_. Open an IRA by April 15. An IRA Could reduce your taxes and it's a great way to invest in your future. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there; CALL ME TODAY. Richard IL Stockton, CLU ChFC, Agent Insurance Lic. #0B68653- Providing Insurance & Financial Services 65 W. Main St., Quincy, CA 95971 (530) 283-0565 Fax (530) 283-5143 www.richardstockton.us WE LIVE WHERE YOU LIVE 00StateFarm ........ BREAKING NEWS County's enrollment would remain near above 2,000 stu- dents through the 2017-18 school year. David Schramel, of Tay- lorsville, likened schools to a business. As a business own- er, looking at th situation, he said that other cuts have to be made before the steps of clos- ing schools and layi.ng off teachers are taken. He argued that nothing was more impor- tant than maintaining each community's schools and teachers, because it was in the best interest of the stu- dents. Closing a school, in Schramel's opinion, is the last cost-cutting step that should ever be considered, not one of the first. "If our schools are like a business, then our children are our product," Schramel said. Travis Rubke, a teacher at Greenville High School, ad- dressed the joint committee with information from a Cali- fornia Teachers Associatiot/ local meeting earlier in the day. According to Rubke, one of the premises involved in se- lecting the staff to receive re- cent layoff notices stemmed from PUSD's insistence that teachers teach only within their credentialed area. In the past, Rubke said, the teachers were told that this was due to No Child Left Be- hind, a federal education act enacted by George W. Bush in 2001. Rubke said that the local teachers union learned, from their California Teachers As- sociation representative, that their district still qualifies as a small school district under the definition provided by the California Department of Ed- ucation. Under that defini- tion, according to Department of Education Code Section 44865D, teachers would be al- lowed to teach outside of their credentialed subject in cer- tain subjects in situations sch as "necessary '' small high schools. . This, as noted by the associ- ation representative, would pit federal education law against state education law. If it were the case, however, that the district's status as a necessary small school did allow it to utilize teachers outside of their subject area then the layoff notice process may have been compro- mised, according to Rubke, The process would be flawed because it does not take into account the district's small school status, or the implica- tions of that status in re- gards to the utilization of teachers. Rubke asked the joint com- mittee to advise the district to "stop the process (of layoffs) and look more carefully at what you're doing." Recall moving forward Twice during public com- ment, the announcement was made that a group of citizens representing each of the four communities had met before the joint 7-11 meeting and vot- ed to initiate the recall process of Plumas County Of- fice of Education (PCOE) Su- perintendent Glenn Harris. This effort, if successful, could lead to the removal of Harris as the PCOE superin- tendent, one of the two super- intendent positions he holds in Plumas County. Harris is also the PUSD superinten- dent, a position for which the PUSD board of trustees hired him. Additionally, two PUSD board of trustees members may be included in the recall efforts. Names for the two board members were not mentioned, but the crowd cheered loudly at the an- nouncement of the recall ef- forts for the PCOE superin- tendent and the two board members. CommonaUties Though the words have of- ten been different, each of the 7-11 committees has stated the desire to see a kindergarten through 12th-grade education available locally, in each of the four communities. To that end, the joint 7-11 committee, in its report, on commonali- ties between the four commit- tees, has adopted the mission statement of the Indian Valley 7-11 Committee. "We declare that pride in community and pride in qual- ity of education are not oppo- site choices. In a rural area BARE ROOT FRUIT TREES APPLES APRICOTS PEARS NECTARINES PEACHES PLUMS ASIAN PEARS CHERRIES Inexpensive and easy to plant in their dormant state Organic veggie, herb and flower Startinl; at SEEDS $ 9 ;:tat II Seedling ] Starting Mix ] Ready to plant and grow Mary Washington 00PAZUGUS ROOT00 e $ 49 $ "t ea 14 doz Our roots are deep in Plumas County Quality & Experience Since 1946 Where we love our plants enough to raise them here Full $erv/ce Florist  Don't forget, we deliverl 41796 Hwy. 70, Quincy i Open: Mon.-Fri.: 9am - Spm Near Feather River College 283-2010  , Sat. 9am- Spm Closed Sun. such as ours they are so in- tertwined as to be indistin- guishable. We believe that the children in each of the four communities in Plumas County- Chester, Indian Valley, Quincy and Portola -- are best served by having K-12 educational programs available in their own towns. We believe that Plumas Uni- fied School District has the responsibility to provide those programs." Each of the committees has also voiced its concern re- garding inadequate informa- tion, and the timeliness of ob- taining the information from the district. Thus, the joint committee said, "The 7-11 committees have been charged with the task of making serious rec- ommendations that have long-term consequences for our children and our commu- nities with inadequate infor- mation under a short time- frame creating an artificially high-pressure situation. Our questions tiave not been an- swered in a timely manner, creating an even greater sense of urgency." The four committees also agreed that school closures and cutting teachers should be the last fiscal measures taken, not some of the first explored. In addition, based on past bud- get and revenue reports, the committees expressed concern that the numbers may paint a more dire picture than may actually exist. Regarding this matter the joint committee stated, "We believe that some immediate spending cuts are needed and possible. We sense that the deficit spending amount actu- ally may be less than the ad- ministration says because the historical record of PUSD budgets indicates that expens- es are usually overestimated by 6 percent and revenue is usually underestimated by 2 percent." In the same light as the last two commonalities, each of the committee, expressed concern over, te infoxma- tion that has been provided to them. Not only do the committees not have all of the information they have requested, what little they have been given is simply posted on the PUSD/PCOE website without notice to the interested parties. This has led to a lack of trust in the information provided. Because of this, the joint committee stated, "Because there is a lack of informa- tion and a lack of trust in the information we have, the 7-11 committees recom- mend that the (PUSD) board seek an outside, profession- al agency to analyze the PUSD budget and finances to bring forward a clear and independent statement of the situation that has been reported by the superinten- dent. One such group is the Fiscal Crisis and Manage- ment Assistance Team that has worked in this district in the past." In addition to those four commonalities, the joint com- mittee has also made three re- quests of the PUSD board. The first request is that the board grant additional time, up to two months after all the requested data has been received, for each of the individual committees to formulate their recommen- dations. The second request is that the board form a long-term advisory committee, specifi- cally an austerity committee, to provide continued advice to the board on possible and sensible spending cuts. The aim of the committee would be to keep the district budget balanced by making cuts where needed. It would be made of members from all four communities. The third recommendation from the joint committee is that the district begin using its "rainy day" reserve fund to stabilize the budget until the amount of cuts necessary to balance the budget is de- termined, and the cuts are enacted. The financials of the dis- trict show that the reserve has grown steadily over the years, and even in the current fiscal year an estimated $800,000 will be Shifted into the reserve fund. One of the joint committee members said that the district needs to use the money it's been putting aside for a rainy day because "It's raining!" Sierra Valley Friends of NRA Locked & Loaded Drawing Ydw GeM Elite Fin rind Gm S.' N 31119WiMm, 1st Place Prize Includes: Yukon Gold Elite Gun Safe with NRA logo Springfield XD40,40cal Thompson ICON Rifle,22,250 Taurus M44 Tracker.44mag Remington 700 Rifle 300win Savage Mk2 Rifte.221r t Marlin 30130 Lever Action Rifle Steoger Uplander Supreme Combo 12ga/20ga 2nd Place Prize Includes: Marlin XL.7,25.06 Khar 1911A1,45acp ,i 3rd Place Prize Includes: 002gaw/NRAIog o You are entered into all , drawings "0 each Call Tyler 530.249.2848 Drawing to be held when all 300 tickets are sold, Our goal is to sell all 300 tickets before the Friends of NRA event, Need not be present to win, but it would be nice if you are'.