Every Tuesday at 4 p.m., a group that calls themselves the "Food Truck Mafia" gathers in the parking lot of Logan High School in Union City to sell food. A portion of their sales goes to the school district and after-school programs. The district is in serious need of cash.
Cabello Elementary School in Union City closed in 2007 because of district-wide declining enrollment. Now, with cash flow low and the district's reserves dwindling, New Haven Unified says it's time to sell. At one point, there was even talk of also putting the district office on the market. "The chances of us getting this kind of financial help that we're looking for are better here than they are by selling our district office which was the committee's other consideration," district spokesperson Rick LaPlante told ABC7 News.
A special committee formed to study the sale of any surplus property estimates it can get $10 million for the Cabello space but less for the district office, so that has been put on hold. The board of education is expected to vote Tuesday night.
New Haven Unified blames the state for constantly falling behind in its payments to school districts, leaving them to find the money elsewhere. "It's basically, the check is in the mail and in this case, it's a very big check. It's $17 million, so that creates significant cash flow problems for our district and merely meeting payroll has become an issue for us," LaPlante said.
The district has other problems. This year, in addition to taking a one percent salary cut, anyone working for the district will have an extra nine unpaid days off. For the average teacher, that's about $8,000 less a year. It also means less time in the classroom. "We also are worried about our students passing the standardized state test. You have more bodies in the classroom and it's harder and harder to give students the individualized needed attention they deserve," teacher Rodana Breen said.
The district also says that if the Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Prop 30, does not pass, they will have to add more furlough days on top of the nine they are already taking. It's a reality for districts through the entire state.