Los Altos district holds off vote


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"I have grave concerns about this recommendation to declare a financial emergency," said Maggie Harris from the Los Altos Teachers' Association.

Thursday night, the Los Altos School Board considered something never before discussed -- declaring a financial emergency. The district has a $2.5 million budget deficit. It's a gap that is blamed on the state's cuts.

"This declaration says this is difficult times. This is difficult financial times," said Tim Justus, the district superintendent.

By declaring a state of financial emergency, the district says it could freeze salary increases owed to younger, less experienced teachers. They would then use that $500,000 to help bridge the budget shortfall.

The remaining $2 million deficit would be filled by federal stimulus dollars and district reserves. Still, union representatives say the move unfairly targets junior level teachers, whose starting salary is under $50,000 a year.

"We're shocked and disappointed that our investment in these classes and the hard work we've put in during the summer break will not be recognized," said Melanie DeMonet, a teacher.

Roughly 160 teachers could have their salary increases, frozen. While the board decided not to vote on the matter on Thursday night, one parent thinks action should have been taken.

"I think we should have declared the fiscal emergency and that we pretty much know that the state of California is not going to give $2.5 million to our district's budget," said Martha McClatchie, a parent.

The board will meet with the unions privately before continuing this matter on August 17.

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