Mt. Diablo school district decides where to cut $48M

March 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
More painful cuts are coming to the troubled Mt. Diablo Unified School District. The board is making some tough decisions on just how to cut nearly $50 million from its budget.

This is a painful exercise that is taking place across the state. Mt. Diablo is a district where six of its schools were labeled as underperforming, so cutting $48 million out of its budget does not bode well for the students.

Everyone at Tuesday night's meeting expected to lose something -- the question is how much?

"The children will not have any, any cultural learning in the areas of music and the arts. It is just heart breaking," said parent Cindy Weller.

The school board has to gouge a whopping $48 million from its three-year budget. The cost-cutting measures include issuing 200 pink slips to district employees, closing four elementary schools, and shortening the school year by as many as seven days. Cutting just one school day would save the district nearly $1 million. The teachers' union is trying to limit those furlough days.

"Everyone's going to give a little bit and again on our share, we have to figure out what that is," said Mike Noce, the teacher's union president.

Students in the district already have to pay to play on sports teams and in music programs.

"They have to sell candles, they have to do whatever they can to scrounge up enough money just to go on a trip," said Concord High School student Aric Bauer.

One thing that could save the district a lot of money is an upcoming $348 million bond election for capital improvements.

Part of that would go toward the largest solar voltaic power system of any school district in the state. School officials say it could save them about $25 million over five years.

"It could help us become more sustainable as a school district and not rely so heavily and make these huge jumps when the state cuts our budget," said school board member Gary Eberhart.

Eberhart encouraged everyone at the board meeting Tuesday night to put more pressure on state legislatures.

What people are likely to see is fewer teachers and more pact classrooms. Some high school classrooms could have as many as 37 students.


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