Denair Board Proposes ‘Bold, New Future’ that Includes K-12 Charter and Parcel Tax

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Citing the need to chart a “bold, new future,” the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees unveiled a plan Thursday night intended to confront chronic enrollment challenges and provide a reliable funding stream to increase teacher pay.

Board President Ray Prock Jr. read a three-page statement at the regular monthly board meeting that makes the case for a new charter covering all grade levels to create “a seamless academic progression” from kindergarten through high school.

Prock also laid the groundwork to ask district voters in November to pass a parcel tax of up to $100 annually. That money, he promised, would be used to “compensate our employees – our teachers, aides, specialists, campus supervisors, maintenance staff and others – at a level that is fair and competitive in the market.”

Five years ago, facing financial crisis driven by the Great Recession and reduced state funding, Denair was forced to slash salaries for all employees up to 11%. Pay raises over the past two years have restored some, but not all, of employees’ pay.

To pass, a parcel tax requires two-thirds approval from those who vote.

“For that reason,” Prock said, “it is critical that the district provides its community stakeholders with all the relevant information for them to make an informed decision.”

The board invited parents, staff and others in the community to collaborate on the district’s new direction. Prock promised that there would be multiple focus groups and opportunities for people to participate and that the board would “actively and carefully listen in order to … gain your trust.”

“Our goal, through these community interactions, is to identify practical steps that will stabilize enrollment trends and lead to enrollment growth at the middle school and high school,” he said.

Denair has 1,272 students on its four campuses – Denair High School, Denair Middle School, Denair Elementary Charter Academy and Denair Charter Academy (which provides support and curriculum to home-school parents as well as independent study options for high school students.) Continue reading “Denair Board Proposes ‘Bold, New Future’ that Includes K-12 Charter and Parcel Tax” »

Sousa, Gomes Win Election to Denair Unified Board

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Educator and parent Crystal Sousa and retired schools technology support specialist Regina “Reggie” Gomes were elected this week to the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees.

In results released Tuesday night, Sousa received 382 votes (36.17%), Gomes 290 (27.46%), retired Denair Middle School custodian Charlie Asbill 234 (22.16%) and self-employed businesswoman Tina Gresio 144 (13.64%).

Sousa and Gomes will be sworn in at the Dec. 14 board meeting. They will replace Trustees Sandi Dirkse and Robert Hodges, who did not seek re-election.

The new board members will serve an extra year – until 2022 — thanks to a decision by the current board last month to move trustee elections from November in odd years to November in even years.

The move is consistent with the state’s preference to consolidate local elections with statewide voting already scheduled for even years. There is abundant data that shows voter turnout is much higher in even year, when people have more issues and candidates to consider.

The next time that voters in the Denair district will elect trustees is 2020, when the terms expire for the other three trustees – Kathi Filson, Ray Prock Jr. and John Plett.

DUSD Board Cheers Positive Financial Report


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District has made a remarkable financial turnaround, trustees were told Thursday night, and will finish the 2014-14 school year with a small surplus.

The recovery is about 18 months ahead of the aggressive expectations set last spring by new Superintendent Aaron Rosander and his revamped financial team in conjunction with state and county advisers. He said the district has kept a “laser-like” focus on its fiscal challenges and been “parsimonious” with its spending.

“The entire district has come together to ensure our success,” said Rosander, who took over in February. “Management and union members have worked impressively together over the past eight months. This relationship is strong and our combined will to succeed is even stronger.”

The district has an $8.7 million budget in 2014-15 and estimates it will end the school year with a 3% reserve, or about $262,000. That meets the minimum requirements set by the state and should earn Denair a “positive” certification for the first time since January 2012 from the Stanislaus County Office of Education, which reviews all school district budgets in the county.

In addition to across-the-board pay cuts, 19 full-time teaching jobs and one administrative position were eliminated earlier this year, and there were reductions to some non-essential academic programs. This fall, the district also was buoyed by a $250,000 windfall from the state thanks to recalculations related to its Average Daily Attendance, which school funding is based on. Other revenue adjustments netted the district about $90,000.

Rosander said parents and other community members “can rest assured and put confidence in the district that their schools are being managed with a high degree of accuracy when it comes to the financial component. Continue reading “DUSD Board Cheers Positive Financial Report” »

Denair Unified School District Passes Budget

DUSD_logo-SmallDenair school trustees passed a lean budget Thursday night while reassuring community members that the district is committed to sustained academic excellence even as it keeps a watchful eye on expenses.

After hearing an analysis by the district’s financial team, trustees voted 4-0 to pass the $8.15 million budget for 2014-15. The district expects to have a $130,000 deficit, but will not require any financial assistance from the Stanislaus County Office of Education. The past two years, the county office loaned the district $2.4 million to prevent state takeover.

By 2015-16, Denair officials expect to have about $370,000 more in revenue than expenses.

“We want to let parents know that we’re not just in survival mode,” Trustee John Plett said after the meeting. “We want the highest quality classes in arts, in math, in science, in English; we’ve not lost sight of that. We’ve hit a speed bump the past couple of years, but students still can get a quality education here.”

Plett joined Trustees Kathi Dunham-Filson, Carolyn Brown and Robert Hodges in passing the budget. Trustee Sandi Dirkse was absent.

“Even though the budget is lean, nothing has been taken away,” said Dunham-Filson. “We still do music. We still do languages. We still do ag. We still do many programs.” Continue reading “Denair Unified School District Passes Budget” »

New DUSD Superintendent Addresses Public

DUSDColorAn 8 minute audio transcript from the January 23, 2014, Denair Unified School District reception for new superintendent, Aaron Rosander, has been posted below. DUSD board president, Robert Hodges, introduced the new superintendent, followed by comments from Mr. Rosander, to a packed DUSD Leadership Room audience.

If you were unable to attend the event, it’s a great way to get to know the new leader of Denair Unified School District. Mr. Rosander officially takes the helm of the district on February 10, 2014.