Submitted by Denair Unified School District
Denair Unified School District trustees signaled support Thursday night for a 2016-17 budget that includes small salary increases for all employees and one-time investments in technology and academic programs.
The proposed budget envisions spending $13.5 million in the next school year as compared to about $13.3 million in 2015-16. The difference, explained Chief Business Officer Linda Covello, mostly is due to the 1% pay raises previously approved for all employees plus state-mandated additional contributions to their retirement funds.
There will be two teaching positions added at Denair Elementary Charter Academy to expand the dual-immersion Spanish language program to the first grade.
Extra money received from the state the past few years will be used to buy new 31 new computers for the Denair High School lab as well as innovative Spanish programs for all campuses and a new math curriculum for the elementary campus. Covello said committees composed of staff members are in the process of identifying additional needs across the district. Because the money comes from one-time reimbursements from the state, Covello said it is best invested in equipment, programs or maintenance upgrades that are not ongoing and do not need to be funded each year.
The 2016-17 budget remains lean because the district still projects a slight decline in enrollment. Each student is worth about $8,000 in state funding based on average daily attendance (ADA). In the past five years, ADA has fallen from 1,535 students to 1,275.
Covello projects Denair to have 1,228 students next year – about a 2% drop from 2015-16. Most of the decline continues to be at the middle and high school campuses; enrollment at DECA and Denair Charter Academy has grown in the past three years, but not quite enough to offset losses at the two other campuses.
Like many districts in the Central Valley, Denair also receives additional state funding based on how many qualified low-income, English-learners and foster youth students it enrolls. Students can qualify in only one category.
Covello said the budget forecasts an ending balance of $3.3 million, which includes about $600,000 in restricted funds that only can be spent on one-time projects.
- Unanimously approved a one-time lump sum payment to the eligible members of the California School Employees’ Association. The deal reached May 19 includes payments of $850 to all CSEA employees who work more than six hours a day and $425 to those who work less. This is in addition to 1% raises approved in May. The one-time salary adjustment payment will cost the district $55,692.
- Recognized departing administrators Michelle Bush, Sara Michelena and Travis Manley. Bush has filled many roles in her 25 years in Denair — teacher, principal and director of student support services. She is taking a new job as director of human resources in the Atwater Unified School District. Michelena has been the elementary principal the past two years. She resigned to care for her two young daughters. Manley, a Denair High graduate, served as principal of Denair Middle School this past year. He accepted a job to become principal of an elementary school in the Sylvan Union School District in Modesto. Trustees also recognized student board member Taryn Fletcher, who graduated last month and will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall.
- Formally approved the hiring of the women who will become principals at Denair High School, Denair Middle School and DECA in the next school year. Kara Backman will become the new leader at the high school, Kelly Beard will take over at the middle school and Lucy Zamora will join the staff at DECA.
- Unanimously approved a renewal petition for Denair Charter Academy that includes updated goals, objections and expectations. The petition covers five years and must be sent to the state Department of Education by June 30. Separately, the board also approved a requirement that all DCA students take three years of math beginning with the next school year.