Mt. Diablo School District facing state takeover

June 28, 2010 5:40:41 PM PDT
The financially-troubled Mt. Diablo School District may be on the verge of a state takeover.

This process of bailing out school districts began in 1991. There have been seven since then, the big one being Oakland in January 2003. Now that districts like Mt. Diablo have huge budget deficits, that number could quickly go up.

Parents in the East Bay city of Concord were told in a letter that a state takeover of the school district is a very real possibility. The superintendent wrote, "If there is a takeover and a state administrator is appointed, your elected representatives, meaning the Board of Education and by extension you, will have no say in running the district."

"I think it's terrible. I don't understand where our tax money is going," says parent Karen Padilla. "The kids are our future. We need to do more for our kids and parents need to take action."

The superintendent was not available Monday because he was on one of his four furlough days. On Tuesday, the school board approved the yearly budget with a $9 million deficit still remaining. Schools there will have a projected deficit of $13 million per year for the next three years.

ABC7 previously talked to district council Deborah Cooksey about their finances.

"We, as a district, can't give anything else. We need a hard cap on our benefits. We need to prorate benefits so that people who work part-time get part-time benefits, and we are trying to negotiate furlough days," she said.

The district hopes to convince the classified employees, meaning gardeners, custodians, secretaries and others, to make concessions.

"How can you be making threats of a state takeover when you don't even know what you're going to get from teacher negotiations?" asks Rollie Katz with the Public Employees Union. "And again, our concern is why're you coming after classified employees, the people who you can't run the district without them, when you don't even know what's going to happen with the school teachers."

The teachers' union says it will wait until September to negotiate with the district.

Seven school districts in California have been taken over by the state including, Richmond/West Contra Costa Unified, Coachella Valley, Compton Unified, Emery Unified, West Fresno Elementary, Oakland Unified, and Vallejo City Unified.

Mt. Diablo could be number eight.

All these districts must present their budgets to their counties by the end of this month. So far, there are eight school districts in the East Bay alone that will not be able to balance their budgets in the next three years if they do not make drastic reductions in staff and services.


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