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 in a savings of $90,000. However, it wasn't needed. But the Board voted to keep that on the table, for future considerations.

The issue of the reserves was frequently discussed. Trustee Twyman explained to the audience that the 15% reserve figure was something that existed before the District finalized its recent contract negotiations with the Menifee Teachers Association. That cut the reserves down to about 10.5%. That still left the District with 7.5% of reserves above the state minimum of 3%. He explained that the district administration already raided that 7.5% to come up with the $5.68 million of cost cutting. By law, they can't use the 3% to pay for normal operating costs.

Several parents and teachers suggested the "Golden Handshake", which is offering older teachers an early retirement. The district said that they already studied this at length, and that it would not result in cost savings. Assistant Superintendent Gil Compton said that he met with a consultant that offers these types of retirement packages, and they advised it would not make fiscal sense. It short, to encourage older teachers to retire early, they would have to offer large enough sums of money, that it would negate any cost savings.

The June 30 Deadline Factor

Trustee Twyman spoke to the audience to explain that the Governor's recommendation to cut back public school spending by 10% is simply a recommendation. It's ultimately up to the State Legislature to decide if they want to accept that recommendation. The Legislature is required by law to adopt a new budget by July 1, and it could very well be that they'll vote to make no cuts at all.

Trustee Giardinelli addressed the audience by saying that even though the State is required to have a budget in place by July 1, they'll likely not have one in place until months later, perhaps September, or even December. However, the School District does not have the luxury of postponing its budget.

Giardinelli went on to point out that if the State postpones its budget, the District is still required to move forward on its recommended budget cuts, as of July 1.

Trustee Twyman used this fact to argue that any cuts they make ought to be ones that can be quickly and easily reversed, should the State vote to make no school budget cuts. Therefore, he had recommended they keep MES open, on the grounds that once kids are moved over to Chester W Morrison, it would be logistically difficult (and expensive) to move them back over to MES. So he instead voted to cut middle school counseling, arguing that they could quickly reinstate it. Ultimately, he was outvoted.

The Next Step

Last night's meeting was pretty much it. All eyes are now on the State Legislature to see if they'll adopt the Governor's recommendations.

The School District is asking everyone to write or telephone our local state legislators and implore them not to make any cuts in school funding. You can contact them here...

State Senator, 36th District - Dennis Hollingsworth
27555 Ynez Road, Suite 204, Temecula CA 92591
Phone: (951) 676 1020
Fax: (951) 676 1030

State Assemblyman, 66th District - Kevin Jeffries
27555 Ynez Road, Suite 205, Temecula CA 92591
Phone: (951) 699 1113
Fax: (951) 694 1039


Menifee-Union-School-District 744427675293301250

Post a Comment

  1. I truly think the school board did not listen to any of the parents at tonights meeting. I was thered with my children and they just learned that money talks and the right walks. I will now be looking for private school for my child that went to MES with the vouches that are my rights THANK YOU MENIFEE SCHOOL DISTRICT for keeping your eyes closed and YOUR pockets open

  2. I am assuming we have saved class size reduction and we will continue to have only 20 students per class? If so, then our voices were heard on that issue. The learning environment has to come first. It is sad to close MES in many ways. Chester is a good school. I am waiting for the rest you were going to publish....

  3. I cannot believe the school board has made such a poor decision in closing MES. I guess the MES parents and students were not heard!

    I also notice no salary freezes or cuts for the DO!

  4. Were Angela Stogner's figures correct tonight? How can the School Board close a school with that BIG of a reserve?

    What is going to happen with the bus drivers and the staff of MES? Will they have jobs next year?

  5. With regards to what happens with the teachers of MES, they'll be moved to Chester Morrison. With regards to bus drivers, they're still needed for the middle school students.

  6. Peters, Giardinelli and O'Donnell had their minds made up before they came to today's board meeting. They were unreasonable and refused to consider valuable options that would have been much less disruptive to education. Blogs following last week's meeting were strongly in favor of "postponing" the opening of the 2 new campuses. This would have also saved the district the most money without bus drivers losing jobs and children losing transportation. Thank you Mrs. Irey and Mr. Twymann for trying to present plans that made sense. Being the "oldest" school in the district does not mean that it is not the best one. How shameful to waste all that is at MES.

  7. "The District Administration added that they could delay their salary increases for the 2008/09 year, which would result in a savings of $90,000. However, it wasn't needed. "

    Well of course they decided "it wasn't needed", how convienent for them that they get to keep their increase....

  8. Could the school even afford to keep the new schools open after they are built with the bond money?

  9. I am saddened that voices were not heard. They (the district admin) talk about being a family? Still no cuts, not even freezes at the top and closing a school that is up for top honors? Shame on them and Mr. Twyman for his poor explanation on the high % in reserve. Trying to have us believe they made cuts on positions that haven't even been funded, positions not even there and claiming this is a cut? Claiming the raise the teachers settled for comes from the reserve? It is COLA, that doesn't come from district reserve. I am sorry if there are some bus driver positions lost, but, as the "tall" gentleman stated, it is the parents responsibiity to get their child/children to school not the school districts'. At least they showed some smarts by saving class size reduction and valuable middle school counseling.

  10. So are we losing bus transportation for the 08/09 school year only or also for 09-10?

  11. We're losing busing for both years.

  12. OK, the teachers move to Chester Morrison. What about the rest of the employees? What about the classified? Will they automatically go to the new schools?

  13. Was anything mentioned about eventually going to traditional schedule?

  14. I know of a good charter school that anyone can enroll their child in..I
    just enrolled my son there...
    River Springs Charter, its fully accredited and is located in Wildomar....check out their website...just put River Springs Charter in the search engine.

  15. A story on the Californian said the administrators don't think they need to freeze their salary increases after they decide to close down a school to save money. After all it's a small pittance of $90,000! Is the Classified staff and Faculty getting salary increases? Of course not, we're in a budget crunch! How self centered and out of touch is that?

  16. I attended the meeting last night and from what I can see they already had their minds made up before we got there. It was just a formality in my opinion. To close a school that is already established, up for the Distinguised School award, and doing so well is ridiculous to me. I am a Quail Valley parent who would benefit from the new school opening, I live right down the street from the new school. However, it makes more sense to me to keep Menifee Elementary open than to close it for 1 year. It is going to take the new schools time to establish programs that Menifee already has in place. If this closure is only for 1 year, then what is the big deal to delay opening the new schools for that time frame? Won't sending the Menifee students to Chester Morrison now overcrowd their school??? I am extremely upset that their pay freeze is being delayed!! THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TO GO!! What about our 3 Asst. Superintendents? Cut one of them and that will save money right there. Other neighboring Districts do it with less Asst. Superintendents. Why can't we? Cuts should have been made in the District Administration Business office first. But of course not! Let's start with our students first. The only good thing that happened was not to increase the class sizes.

  17. Moving to a traditional schedule is still the plan, although I don't know if the timeframe is still the same. They might push things back another year or two.

    As for layoffs at MES, I'm sure there are duplicatives like janitorial and administrative. They have to come up the $509,000 in savings somehow.

  18. I'm sorry but this just doesn't pass the common sense test. We are overcrowded and broke, so lets close a school, spend money we don't have to open two new ones and push a bond measure through for even more. If there isn't enough money to support MES then how are they going to pay to operate five new schools. And if we are that overcrowded that they need all these new schools why close down Menifee Elem.

  19. The buildings don't make the school, the people do!

    You watch... Most everyone displaced by the closure of MES will be moved to the new Quail Valley school.

    If it helps, think of it this way: MES is not closing, it's just moving.

    Most of the students, families, and teachers that have made MES a great place will continue to work together at the new facility.

    Yes, some kids will be attending Chester Morrison, but that's a nice school too. I'm sorry that you were the ones forced to make the greatest sacrifice, but your child's education will not suffer.

    The closing of a school can be very emotional, but faced with this economic situation, I think these tough decisions were the right ones made.

    Jobs and layoffs? Think about it... we're closing one school and opening two. I don't think many people will be losing work (or am I missing something?).

  20. Yes, you are absolutely MISSING something. It is fundamentally wrong to tell our children that their school does not matter enough, and they will be subject to a move that may or may not be permanent, depending on how the school board feels on a particular day.

    I, along with many others, *refuse* to have our MES children and staff "absorbed" into another school.They are stand out individuals, and we will act accordingly in order to preserve the uniqueness of our campus family.

    It's not an emotional decision, prior poster. It is very quick and easy for you to tag it as that, when you are not the one involved here. Common sense says you don't overcrowd schools, polarize populations, and eliminate transportation to and from school, but keep salaries, and not volunteer to trim costs in creative ways.

    For every dollar of the admins' raises that they recieve, they should be forced to find matching contributions. No one saw it needed to cut the increases, yet there was no symbolic gesture to waive them, as a show of solidarity and sympathy for the families who are affected?


    Imagine how different things would be if there were real estate and home builders punting kickbacks into Twyman and his cohorts pockets. But no. The economy is stagnant, people are greedy, and instead of preserving the history and traditions of the valley, we have board members who would rather sweep the kids under carpet and then most assuredly line up for photo ops when Menifee garners the publicity for the super center.They are hoping our "absorbed" students and staff will not remind the adoring, shopping public what they did.

    Parents, and teachers of MES, we will unite and do whats right for our school. We must to REFUSE to be thrown under the wheels of a bus that cannot even AFFORD THE GAS to run us over!

  21. I too, am very disappointed with the board's decision. Why even have the meeting because they just sat there and acted like they were taking our input in, when all along...they had their minds made up from before the first meeting? Why waste everyone's time?
    I can't wait till re-election time where my input will be heard. Where was the district level cuts? Are they immune?

  22. Notice how they waited until after Measure B to start meeting about the budget.

  23. Thank you to everyone who is supporting Menifee Elementary.

    If you have experienced what goes on inside the walls at this great place, you know and feel what everyone is talking about and why saddness is being felt by all who are losing their "home" and "family". Menifee Elementary is truely a unique place with unique students and teachers. The staff has worked so hard together to establish high standards, high school spirit and a wonderful relationship with the families. Menifee Elementary is the heart and sole of this valley. It dates back over 50 years!

    It saddens me deeply to think that by the Boards standards, Ridgemoor's family is more important than Menifee's family. Ridgemoor spoke out and was able to keep their wonderful family together - no boundary changes until necessary. While Menifee Elementary family members were not heard. How unfortunate for all that have built that wonderful place up!!!!!

    Does the Board Members know what goes on at Menifee Elementary? Do they know what they are shutting down? Do they know how the teachers shape and mold their students on a daily basis? Have they walked through and seen for themselves? More than once?

    Menifee Valley is losing a GREAT school! Just ask those students, parents and teachers that make up the school.

    And now the Menifee tax payers have to continue to pay off the bond that helped build up Menifee Elementary with new buildings, a computer lab and library. What a waste of our hard-earned money. And we passed another bond?

  24. Who says we are a Menifee Family?
    After lasts night meeting, it is evident that the elected board and school officials are NOT thinking of the big picture. Student safety to and from school should have been considered just as much on the forefront as class size, and other budget cuts. Those of you who spoke at the meeting regarding carpooling, are speaking from a priveledged stand point. There are numerous parents that do not have the luxury of being home to carpool their children, and live in communitees where two income families are required.

    How quickly we forget the two schools that were on lockdown due to a person locally locked up in a house with a gun at the same time as both schools approached dismissal: BMMS and CKE. The director of transportation, Mr. Dave Brown, quickly assembled several buses to transport students to the areas that were within the designated walking distance. STUDENT SAFETY WAS NEVER COMPROMISED!!!!!!! Lets remember who would have been left at the school supervising those children until they would have been picked up.

    A special thanks to the D.O. for finally taking down the "School Bus Drivers wanted" banner today. This was salt in the wound to many drivers affected by yesterdays vote.

  25. I'm sorry I just don't understand! The board could have kept Menifee Elem open and cut elementary music at a higher cost savings. Now I am not against the fine arts, but I now that the elementary population does not all benefit from music.. but all the students at MES benefit from having a home school.. hmm a future distinguished school at that. Why and how could this happen.Closing MES saves 509K and eliminating elementary music saves 600K.. and which is easier to reinstate?? go figure.

  26. I am not sure all the teachers and community understand that freezing administrative salaries includes principals and assistant principals. Because there will be no hiring of assistant principals as originally proposed, the assistant principals will most likely be working split shifts, trying to meet the needs of teachers, students, and parents at two sites. When we applaud their freeze in wages, we are saying it is ok that you will be working twice as hard and not get compensation for it. The MUSD administrators don't ever talk about the money they want to make. They are there for the kids and all the constituencies involved. Freezing their wages really sends a message that they are not appreciated. I left the meeting Tuesday feeling badly about that.

  27. Can we get back hours for our bus drivers and make some money at the same time by using our brand new buses to transport our district's kids on field trips instead of them just sitting in storage. I know that Menifee schools pay a pretty penny to be transported by Laidlaw and Hemet school district buses to events and study trips. I know it doesn't make up all lost income, but it may be enough to save a few. Maybe even outsourcing our buses and drivers for field trips of other distrcits who need this as well. How about keeping our own employed during this tough time.

  28. These administrators were put in by us to do what was best for the kids of Menifee and the surrounding areas, but have only done what is best for them(ie, salary increases).Why not do a recall and get these people out of office?

  29. I know that drop off and pick up times at schools in this district can be a nightmare and can take up to 30 minutes to complete. Imagine what it will be like with no bussing, and that many more parents waiting in those lines. The drivers seem to get a little self centered and pull off some crazy moves putting the walking students in danger.
    My suggestion to any administration/board members that may be reading these blogs is to stagger the start end time of 4th/5th grade by 20 minutes. This would allow the parking lot to clear out before the next wave of students comes to and from school
    For example:
    1,2,3 start at 7:40 and K,4,5 begin at 8 am or vice versa. One would end at 2:04 and the other at 2:24
    Just a thought. I can't imagine the pick up lines at the schools being worse than they already are.
    I guess the only down fall to this is a parent who has a 2nd and 5th grader. In that situation maybe the younger one could go to a designated room for 20 minutes.
    Maybe it will all work out with the two new schools opening. I guess that will take some of the traffic away.

    MES students/parents who are going to the Quail Valley school can rest a little easier with this knowledge. They are going to a brand new school with a principal, Mr. Winn, who has already opened new schools and was indeed the principal of Menifee Elementary for several years before moving to Freedom Crest. He is one of the best in the business and knows all about the programs and staff that are at MES. I don't know very much about CWM. Maybe someone can input to help these parents. And to the parent who wants to pull their kid and put them in a charter school. That seems to be more harmful to a child then explaining to them that they get to go with half their teachers, half their friends, to a brand new school; rather than lets go, that district is terrible, we are going to go be amongst strangers. My kids do not go to MES so I don't have your same emotions and feelings, but change is not always such a bad thing.

  30. "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."

    Did the district fail to understand elminating busing is a hardship TO ALL the families in Menifee? I still live farther than those 2 schools distances from each other...I dont get it

  31. How about this:
    The district finds a charter school that needs to lease a school site
    Then all the parents who want their kids to stay on that campus and/or attend a charter school can, and the district will make the money from leasing the property

  32. I grew up in Orange County and was in elementary school in the 80's. I had two, yes two , schools close on me. I turned out pretty good. It helps knowing that your friends and most of your teachers are going with you. Education being funded by the government puts districts in a bind when things like this happen. Don't be so hard on the board because they close down a 50 year old school. It is life.

  33. To the comment about the admin and getting them out of office. Again, the freeze applies to the principals at the sites too. The school would not function if we ran these people out of our schools.

  34. How about replacing just the Superintendent?

  35. I'm all for starting a petition to recall the Superintendent. Just start at the top, I think they have forgotten who put them there,as far as principles leave them in place, We don't need to remove staff from schools They are the ones that work closest to the kids and know what is needed.

  36. Regarding staggered dismissal times:

    My children attended elementary school in Murrieta, where the dismissal time for upper grade students was 5-10 minutes later than lower grades. It was a nightmare! Several parents with children in both upper and lower grades arrived early, parked in the pickup loop, loaded up their lower grade students, and continued to wait and hold up the line until their upper grade students got to the car. The aides supervising dismissal did nothing to keep the line moving, so if you used the pickup line, you could expect to be there forever. I have seen nothing in Menifee that comes close to that disaster.

  37. Dear Parents, Coworkers, and Friends that may be reading this... I am a teacher at CWM. Prior to Tuesday, none of us really thought that MES would close, so we really had NO idea the MES students would come to CWM. Beginning first thing Wednesday morning, we started asking a lot of questions and already begun preparing for "our" students to come in July. Your children will not be polarized or singled out in any way. Everything I have heard is about providing them everything they had at MES and even mo