School Board Budget Decision

The Menifee Union School District, this evening, voted to close down Menifee Elementary School for the 2008/09 school year, as well as cutti...

The Menifee Union School District, this evening, voted to close down Menifee Elementary School for the 2008/09 school year, as well as cutting elementary counseling and elementary busing, in response to the Governor's proposal to reduce public school spending.

The decision came after last week's Board meeting where district staff announced that the reduction of state funds would translate to a $10 million deficit for our district. To make up that $10 million, the district was able to trim $5.68 million from various funds, including the elimination of several unfilled positions. In addition, they found they qualified for a $2 million grant from the State for being a multi-track school.

That still left the district with another $2.32 million to make up.

In last week's meeting (link), the district staff listed several services that could be cut to make up that deficit, but would require discussion from the Board, as well as public input.

This evening, the Board voted to cut the following...

  1. Close Menifee Elementary for 2008/09 ($509,557)

  2. Elimination of elementary counseling ($310,000)

  3. Eliminate elementary school busing ($1,600,000)

This totals up to $2,419,557.

The district also voted to offer limited elementary busing just for those students of Menifee Elementary that would have to be moved to Chester W Morrison. This would add $60,000 back on to the budget, reducing the savings to $2,359,557

Add that to the $5.68 million they already cut, and the $2 million in state grants, that gives us a total of $10,039,557. The exact figure is actually $10,035,293.

The Meeting

The Multi-Purpose Room of Menifee Middle School was about filled to capacity, and many more parents attended. The meeting spent about 90 minutes hearing comments from the public.

Quite a few parents, and children themselves, stepped up the podium, and implored the Board to keep Menifee Elementary School (MES) open. One girl wore a t-shirt with the words, "Save MES" painted in red. Other parents belted out the point that it made no sense to close MES after voters passed Measure B, raising taxes to build three more schools. Other parents pointed out that MES was recently nominated for California Distinguished School, and it would send the wrong message to shut it down.

The Board's decision to close down MES was made possible because of their decision to open up both Quail Valley and Southshore Elementaries. Students living Quail Valley currently attend MES, and therefore opening up Quail Valley would drop MES' enrollment low enough that it didn't warrant keeping it open. Other students now attending MES would be moved to Chester W Morrison Elementary.

Eliminating elementary busing was also made possible by the opening of Quail Valley and Southshore. A large chunk of busing expenses comes from transporting Quail Valley students to MES, and by opening up Quail Valley Elementary it makes a lot easier to eliminate busing altogether.

But because moving other MES students over to Chester W Morrison would create a transportation hardship for some families, the Board decided to offer elementary busing just for these students. Assistant Superintendent Dan Wood said that it would cost $60,000 over the 2008-2010 school years to offer this limited service.

The decision to cut elementary counseling appeared to have been an easy one. Even though the Board decided not to cut it last week, all five Board members were singing a different tune this week. Trustee Giardinelli said he had attended four elementary schools this past week, and spoke to several teachers who said that counseling was not well utilized, and that there's a heavy turn-over of counselors. Elementary counselors are currently provided by a contractor.

The District Administration added that they could delay their salary increases for the 2008/09 year, which would result i