School District Budget Cuts Discussed

This evening, the Menifee Union School District discussed budget cuts, and talked about which services will be getting axed in the coming ye...

This evening, the Menifee Union School District discussed budget cuts, and talked about which services will be getting axed in the coming years.

Parents are going to want to read this.

It was a well-attended meeting, but mostly attended by teachers and faculty.

Among those services discussed: busing, counseling, music, class size reduction, and even shutting down one of the schools entirely.

Some decisions were made by the Board of Trustees at this meeting, but overall, no final decision will be made until next week's meeting.

Included in the presentation, were recommendations from the district administration on what services could be cut, and how much money could be saved by making those cuts.

Eliminating "class size reduction" for grades K, 1, 2, and 3, could result in savings of $1.7 million during the 2008/09 and 2009/10 school years. Class size reduction refers to attempts made by the district in previous years to reduce class sizes, resulting in better education for kids, and making teachers' jobs more easier. By undoing these attempts, class sizes would grow larger, but would result in cost savings for the district.

Many teachers in the audience walked up to the podium to voice their displeasure for eliminating class size reduction, and urged the Board to not make budget cuts in the classrooms. The Board made a decision not to eliminate class size reduction for all grades K, 1, 2, and 3 combined, but left the possibility to eliminate it for just K or 3, or both.

Also discussed quite seriously was to completely eliminate school busing, either for elementary, middle school, or both. Cutting elementary busing would result in a savings of $1.5 million over the 2008/09 and 2009/10 school years, while cutting middle school busing would result in $1.6 million. Dan Wood, assistant superintendent, said that eliminating both would result in only $1.8 million savings, because buses and staffing are shared between the two school levels.

It's also worth noting that the district administration said that eliminating school busing has the adverse effect of lowering school attendance. This was an interesting point because it would lower the district's "average daily attendance", and would result in lower state contributions.

Trustee Irey asked Dan Wood if they could find more money by raising the school bus fees. Wood answered that he already studied it, and raising the fee from $190 a year to $220 a year would result in extra income of $40,000 a year tops.

Closing down Menifee Elementary School for the 2008/09 school year was also seriously considered, and would result in a savings of $590,557. Students and teachers would be absorbed into other schools. The Board decided they would leave this option open, and won't make a decision until next week.

Another serious budget cutting move was to delay the opening of the new Quail Valley and Southshore Elementary Schools for one year, resulting in a savings of $1.1 million. The teachers in the audience were very supportive of this option, giving applause every time it was mentioned. However, Trustee Giardinelli made a case for taking this option off the table, citing the fact that they already promised the parents new school boundaries for the 2008/09 school year. However, it's still being left open as an option.

Eliminating music from the school curriculum was discussed, and a few teachers voiced their displeasure for cutting it out. Cutting it out would result in a savings of $600,000. However, the Board decided it would not cut music.

It was also decided not to cut counseling at all. A proposal called for cutting out counseling completely from elementary, and reducing it 50% from middle schools, would result in a combined savings of $730,000. However, both teachers and counselors made emotional pleas to leave it alone. The Board agreed.

One teacher addressed the Board by suggesting that they delay the adoption of new text books, and that this could save the district some money. However, assistant superintendent, Karen Valdes responded that the State has certain laws in effect that require school districts to maintain certain standards in textbooks, and that where the district is at right now, there simply is no way they can delay new adoptions.

One parent addressed the Board by saying that the presentation didn't include salary cuts from the school administration, which resulted in a loud applause from the audience.

Gil Compton, another assistant superintendent, pointed out that across the school district, they spend approximately $400,000 a year making photocopies. Compare that to the $590,000 the district would save by shutting down Menifee Elementary for one year.

The Budget Shortfall

Today's budget meeting resulted from last January when the Governor announced a $14.5 billion shortfall of state income, and recommended a 10% cutback on public school spending. The Governor issued guidelines to all school districts on what to expect, so that they could determine how this 10% cutback would translate to each district.

Menifee Union used this guideline, and determined that they would realize a $10 million loss in state contributions over three years, beginning with the current year (2007/08).

To make up for this projected $10 million in losses, the district administration was able to identify $5.68 million in savings by eliminating several teaching positions, most of which are unfilled, as well administrative positions. It also included reduced spending in various places, like safety, operations, technology, furniture, and facilities maintenance.

They also found that they could apply for a special State grant of $2 million just because the district is currently on a multi-track schedule. By obtaining that $2 million, it raises the savings up to $7.68 million.

The district still needs another $2.32 million in cost cutting to nullify the $10 million in projected state losses. To achieve this, the school district suggested cutting some services, but because these services have a direct impact on students, it necessitated discussion by the Board, and public input.

These services I already discussed above, but here they are again (with savings in parentheses)...

  1. Elimination of Class Size Reduction for grades K and 3 ($848,000)

  2. Elimination of Class Size Reduction for grades K, 1, 2, and 3 ($1,708,856)

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

  4. Reduce middle school counseling by 50% ($420,000)

  5. Elimination of elementary music ($600,000)

  6. Eliminate elementary school busing ($1,500,000)

  7. Close Menifee Elementary for 2008/09 ($590,557)

  8. Delay opening of Quail Valley and Southshore Elementaries until 2009/10 ($1,106,290)

The Board voted to remove items 2, 3, 4, and 5 from discussion, meaning that they were not an option for cost cutting, but also note that this still leaves item #1 open for discussion.

The Board also discussed another option, to go ahead and open up Quail Valley Elementary, but convert it into a K-8 school, meaning combining both elementary and middle schools into one. The reason for this is because a huge chunk of the school busing costs involves transporting Quail Valley students. So, if the new Quail Valley school could accomodate both elementary and middle school, the district could completely eliminate busing from Quail Valley.

Assistant superintendent Gil Compton remarked that it's not a given there would be any cost savings by combining two school levels into one school, and that any savings from eliminating busing could be negated by the higher school operating costs.

Assistant superintendent Dan Wood remarked that not only are losing money due to the State income shortfall, but we're also getting less per-student spending because student enrollments are down. The foreclosure problem, and the rising unemployment rates have dropped student enrollment by 300 at the beginning of the school year, though the district has recovered much of that since then.

Trustee Giardinelli commented that the district could stop watering and mowing the lawns. But Trustee Irey responded that it would cost them a lot more to restore the lawns once economy gets back into shape.

Next Meeting

The Board of Trustees is expected to make a final decision on eliminating busing, eliminating class size reduction for kindergarten and/or 3rd grade, closing down Menifee Elementary, delaying the opening of Quail Valley and Southshore Elementaries, and the rest of the budget nightmare, next week, on February 26, at Menifee Valley Middle School, 4:00pm.

There will be a public comment session before the Board makes it final decision.

In the meantime, the Board would love to hear comments from the public on cost-cutting ideas and sources for untapped revenue.

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  1. Thanks Steve for this info. I had emailed at 10 anxious for it. This truly is a crisis. 34 kindergartners in a classroom again! I vote NOT TO OPEN THE NEW SCHOOLS in lieu of crowding our K or 3rd grade classrooms. Smaller classes help students master the skills of reading, writing, and math and give them a firm foundation for the other grades. Socially, they have a better school experience in smaller classrooms. Losing class size reduction is a big step backwards for our kid's education. Parents need to get involved and save class size reduction.

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  2. Where does measure B fall into this ?

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  3. Measure B is outside of all this.

    Money for Measure B is considered to be facility costs, which is a different animal than operating costs. We're simply talking about operating costs here. Measure B funding will continue.

    However, the three new schools that Measure B is building may not open on time, because the district may not have funds to operate them. Considering that student enrollments have tailed off, there is no longer a reason to have them.

    At the meeting today, someone complained to the Board that the district campaigned heavily that Measure B was badly needed to reduce overcrowding in schools, yet now the Board is talking about closing down Menifee Elementary, and delaying the opening of Quail Valley and Southshore.

    To their defense, however, the School District put Measure B on the ballot back last Summer, several months before the Governor dropped this budget bomb on us.

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  4. Just curious...the district is receiving a $2 million state grant for being multi track; how much would it save if it went single track?

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  5. Does the district receive money for the use of their facilities, such as multipurpose rooms? If so, what if schools allowed use of their facilities for after school care? There is a huge demand for after school care here in Menifee. And if there was some sort of program at the school sites, I think working parents would love it - if nothing else then for the convenience alone. They wouldn't have to find transportation for their kids to get them to after school care. Or would this create more work for custodians and increase other costs too much to make it worthwhile monetarily?

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  6. There were some very disturbing decsions made last night, none of which should have been made in the absence of the Board President. Where were you Mr. Twyman on one of the most important meetings of the year? Many of us were counting on him as a classroom teacher and a parent to reason with the other Board members who believe that music (which only services 3-5 with recorders and instruments as it is) is more important than class size reduction. Yes, music is important but all teachers have CDs students can sing to and we can put our kids in music lessons just as we do soccer... I really hope that just as they removed the items last night, they can add them again for reconsideration once the public has their opportunity to speak.

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  7. Yes, music should not be a priority over class size reduction. As a bit of clarity with the funds: The state funded a huge chunk of class size reduction (CSZ)back when "there was money" (Davis "daze") Slowly they have been funding less and making the districts absorb the cost of CSZ into their operating costs. Now the district is financially responsible for the entire "program." However, CSZ has to be a priority! If we lose it in K or 3 they will eventually get rid of it altogether.It has enabled us to increase scores and make our schools successful. Our schools will take a turn for the worse in both teacher and student performance. Behavior in the classrooms, and on the playground will be affected by more crowded conditions. Less adults to student ratio means less performance all around and everyone loses out. PARENTS NEED TO ORGANIZE and get on this or MUSD will ax CSR.

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  8. The schools do charge a fee to use the facilities. All of the youth sports in the area pay a fee have practices and games at the school locations.
    There is also the YMCA that holds child care at, I believe, 2 school locations.

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  9. I think getting kids to and from school is more important than eliminating class size reduction. This is a major safety issue as well, especially for kids who live far from school. You're going to have kids walking to school when its dark outside to get to school on time. What about parents with no cars? What are they suppose to do?

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  10. Bussing obviously cannot be sacrificed due to possible drop in attendance which will result in drop in revenue. Class size reduction has to be saved to save school performance and make sure school is safe, successful, and enjoyable for the little ones. What about reserves? I hear a lot about reserves. The state requires that a district keep 9% in reserves for bad times. I am just guessing here onthe exact number. I heard that MUSD keeps a lot more than that. In this time of crisis, isn't it time to use reserve money to cover important programs for at least a couple years in hopes the economy bounces back? Or are reserves just used to make income in the form of interest from the bank? If the economy does not bounce back at year 2 then do the tough cuts. I would like to hear from MUSD about how much in reserves they have and what they are going to or supposed to use it for.

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  11. In response to the above comment regarding reserves...

    The District discussed the reserves at the meeting. It's 3% of budget.

    The reserve is only for "unforseen events". For example, if the Governor decided to show up at Ridgemoor Elementary and give a speech, it would incur additional costs from the district to make preparations.

    The reserve is not to be used as part of normal operating costs.

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  12. Delaying the opening of the new schools is the obvious best choice for the district. With declining enrollment it would not be a strain on the school sites to accomodate the students for another year on the track system. Menifee USD has been talking about traditional school year forever and it just doesn't seem like it is going to happen. Something always comes up. The fact is they actually do a pretty good job of handling year round. The teachers like it and the kids are used to it. It makes so much sense to delay this for another year and not open the new schools, especially with the option being eliminating class size reduction. Parents need to get on board and block the elimation of class size reduction. Kindergarten today is not the Kindergarten of ten years ago. Kids are expected to be reading and writing and have a solid grasp on math as they enter first grade. Kids are going to be WAY behind in 1st grade if the class size goes up in K. The Kindergarten day is short enough and then adding 14 extra kids. Wow! Big mistake. I know of some districts, like Irvine, who have 34 Kindergarteners in a class, but the big difference is this area is not as likely to have a ton of parental help in the classroom as say the Irvine district. I know of a Menifee Kindergarten teacher who has one parent helper one day a week. Some may say well there are two Kindergarten teachers per day and they can both help each other. That sounds reasonable until you step into the shoes of one of them for a day and see how much planning and preparation is involved in a kindergarten day. Teachers should not have to give up 3-4 hours of there time after school to make up for the district's decision to cut from the wrong area.
    DELAYING THE OPENING OF THE NEW SCHOOLS IS THE WAY TO GO!!!!!!

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  13. According to the meeting last night the district is required by the state to keep 3% in reserves. The district does not want to keep the bare minimum due to the possibility of other costs to come that they have not projected for. Dr. Callaway stated that even though it would appear we are in great need and should be able to dip into these reserves the State does not agree. I just don't think the district was creative enough with the solutions presented. We need options such as decrease busing, not eliminate. We also should be eliminating things that can easily be put back into place- music, elementary counseling, opening the new schools. Once class size reduction is gone- its gone, just like the middle school prep period teachers gave up a few years ago to save money. I know that elementary counseling is going to upset many people and it sounds harsh, but we need to really explore the program that costs $310,000 to be sure that it is money well spent. I think that is sounds good to have counseling, but is that really the reality or is a feel good buzz word? Keep in mind students can only see the counselor 1 time without parent permission...are the students in real need going to get the permission? Probably not. Also the counselor is only on campus 2 days a week and serves only a very few students, unlike the middle school where a counselor is there everyday (so if you need help on the 3 days there is no support something else has to happen anyways). I know that the regularity of the visits is not consistent. Also there has been a high turn over of counselors as well- we have gone months without one. As a parent I feel it is my responsiblity to get my kids in couseling if they need one and set them up with friend/family member that they can talk to. Schools cannot do it all and they can do even less with a loss of $10 million. Teachers already wear the counseling hat as does administration maybe they could just do a bit more to save class size reduction. Schools already have Character Counts programs and 40 Assets- maybe more can be done with those? Again, this is a cut that can easily be put back in place. So if we cut the two new schools -1.1 mil, elementary music 600,000, elementary counseling 310,000 and reduce busing and increase costs of tickets and/or operate smaller schools on a single track calendar that should equal the $2.3 mil we need.

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  14. Great points Tina. My daughter was in Kindergarten at Ridgemoor last year and I helped out. I could not imagine the classes being any larger than they were. I felt my daugter was well taken care of.
    3rd grade seems like it may be okay with 25 kids, but I am only throwing that out there. I am not a teacher so I wouldn't know for sure about that.

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  15. The idea of there being two teachers in a class in K is not the reality. The district is year-round that means that 25% of the staff is off any given month. In smaller schools there is only 1 K class per track, therefore there is one class without a partner teacher every month. On top of that parent help and support is declining and not consistent, especially at the sites that need it the most. Both parents are working, sometimes 2-3 jobs, or at home with smaller children and no childcare. We should not take this out on those children that are least able to take up for themselves. Anyone that supports class size reduction needs to walk in a teacher's and a child's footsteps and they will surely see that that is the WORST decision that can be made.

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  16. The removal of Class Size Reduction should be the very last resort. Children who struggle in K and 1st grade will have a negative attitude about school and usually struggle for the remainder of their academic career. Additionally, the teachers have a hard enough time trying to test the kids now with only 20. There is no way for a teacher to spend the necessary 20 minutes or so with an individual child and still watch another 29+ kids. It is physically not possible. The more parents that show up and speak at the meeting Tuesday night, the better the chances are this cut will be spared. Please encourage all the parents you know to attend the meeting and urge the board to spare Class Size Reduction!

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  17. I think cutting Class Size Reduction would be devastating at any grade level. The only reason why our students are so successful right now is because of the attention and early basics they received in K-3 grades. Cutting the budget here would be like taking one giant sized step backwards. Just watch those nice, high test scores fall right off the chart!

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  18. I also say we do not open the new schools to be able to save money for the district. From the sounds of the board meeting music and counseling are already off the list to be considered. Plus I think their should be other options available to choose from.

    I was amazed that they left losing class size reduction in K and/or 3rd grade for an option. I don't understand why they didn't vote to get that off the list. Board member Rita Peters seemed to try to tell the board that she also wanted that off the table, but they would not vote on it!

    My child is in Kindergarten and he overheard my husband and I talking about this and he even said, "There is not enough carpet space for 30 students." Even my child knows this is unrealistic!

    The third grade teachers may be able to handle 30 students, but student performance probably will go down.

    Also if they are getting rid of class size reduction then that means they have to get rid of teachers. They will need to lay off quite a few teachers since there will be less classes with more kids in them. I don't think an option where teachers are losing their jobs and student and teacher performace will go down is an option that they should have left on the table. Parents and teachers need to be at this upcoming meeting and share their concerns, especially about class size reduction.

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  19. What is truly astounding is that the board member who bills herself as a "reading specialist" only seemed concerned about saving the elementary music program. Where are the boards' priorities? Did they listen to the parents and teachers begging them to leave class sizes (and Menifee Elementary) alone? It seemed like only Mrs. Peters was listening to her constituents.

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  20. I hope people really remember what the Board is doing and saying when election time roles around. Does anyone know who is up for re-election this November... right now only Peters has my vote (and I know she is not). Twyman might get it based on his actions next week, but if I have my way the other 3 would have been gone at the end of last night's meeting.

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  21. We need options such as decrease busing, not eliminate

    ***for the above comment, how would you "decrease" busing? I think transportation and the safety of our children should should be top priority, after all...with no students, there's no money. What would be the alternative for families with no cars, or working parents that rely on the buses?

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  22. Does anyone out there realize how much money is being spent on the popultion of students that are English Language Learners (millions of dollars)? If you really want to talk about a drain on our budget this should be something brought to the table. We need to stand up and take care of our children and put an end to funding such programs that only take away from the programs that should be in place. Programs challenging and pushing citizens of the U.S. Preparing the future leaders of our country. I don't know about you but I pay TOO much in taxes to have to resort to my child's education being destroyed (eliminating class size reduction) to fund programs for students that aren't even citizens of OUR country. Maybe some of you are willing to sacrice your child's education and would say I am being unreasonable, but this would not happen in any other country than ours. I feel it's unfair that the students will directly being hurt by what is going to take place. We need to take a long hard look at the programs we are funding. Stand up for what's right and oppose class size reduction!!!!

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  23. MAKE CUTS AND THE ADMINISTRATION LEVEL. AND WHAT ABOUT DR. CALLAWAY'S 17 PERCENT RAISE? MAYBE HER RAISE SHOULD BE PUT ON HOLD UNTIL WE CAN AFFORD IT!

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  24. I would like to investigate the option of not adopting new curriculum. Think of all of the money that could be saved there. They have fairly new curriculum within the last couple of years, and it is still releveant. Menifee seems to purchase materials unneccessarily when there is plenty already available. They received all new English Language Learner textbooks one year after purchasing an entirely different series. The old ones (which were only 1 year old) were tossed by the wayside and forbidden to be used, even though they were a great resource and adopted by the State. Karen Valdez may want a new curriculum, but let's see the law that she claims requires us to buy them.

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  25. I have to agree with the person who posted to cut at the administration level and put that large raise on hold!!

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  26. In all reality the music program only effects a small percentage of the elementary population. Only 3rd graders get to attend music class, and this is only for 30 minutes, one day per week, for half of the year. Often times their sessions are cancelled because the music teacher is on a 215 day contract and he/she takes time off throughout the year. 4th and 5th graders can sign up for band, but this is a small percentage of children. Anything that the kids are exposed to is minimal and hardly worth the thousands of dollars that can be saved by elimnating it. Music can, and is taught in the classrooms every day.Teachers in 3rd grade already teach the recorders in their class, as their time with the music teacher is not enough and is not consistent throughout the year. I say cut music before touching class sizes!

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  27. It seems that we have forgotten what really matters here. It is our children's education that matters. Keep the cuts away from the classroom and start making the cuts at the administrative level. Why do we need a superintendant and 2 assistants? Why do we need administrative secretaries...yeah it would be harder to run the district office, but shouldn't they be feeling the cuts and not our kids? Callaway's raise is ridiculous at a time when everyone is so frantic about what programs for our children should be cut. I say make the cuts at the adminstrative level and leave the kids alone!

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  28. Ditto to all who agree to not opening 2 new elementary schools! Ditto to all of those who ask why not cuts at the top? It seems as though so much revolves around what the district office people and the board want. I thought our schools were to be what's best for the kids. Menifee isn't that large of a district, but, it sure is top heavy! And, lastly, why do the middle schools always get slighted? Do we forget these kids from K-5 grow up and move to the middle schools? I am so tired of so much focus on elementary. Cut the top and don't open 2 new elementary schools.

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  29. The district should have realized these cuts were coming last year when they decided to adopt a new science curriculum and math curriclum this year. Increasing class size would be more of a strain on students and teachers. It is a disservice to the younger learners in the classroom. I will simply send my children to a private school to ensure that class size stays below 20. Sacrificing educators and learners will not save California. Some one should mention to Arnold, that his budget cuts for California schools reflects his lack of appreciation for education and educators. Districts need to stop overpaying administrative positions. Or California educators should all move to India where teachers are on the top of the social class and so highly valued that teachers even have day dedicated to them. Board members and the Governor need to realize that education is the key to ensuring productive, responsible learners and citizens. Not the amount of photocopies made. Tell the district to send mass copies out and reduce the paper flow.

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  30. I am disturbed that Linda Callaway would recommend that the board should just randomly eliminate certain options without even dicussing them, investigating them, or hearing what the public or teachers had to say about them. This seems like a very uneducated way to base a decision.

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  31. Menifee should go traditional now instead of in 2009. Keep the 6th graders at the elementary schools. Two new elementary school are opening and they are talking about closing Menifee elementary, whats the point of opening a new school if one needs to close?? Eliminate 215 positions, that would save the district money. Go to one track, keep the middle school only 7th and 8th graders, that would open up all the classrooms presently used for 6th graders. There would be room at the elementary schools for K-6 with the population dropping. Maybe the district should offer early retirement programs as other districts have done in the past then teachers earning over 80,000 dollars would be replaced by a newer less expensive educator with new styles and methods to engage learners as well as the patience to tolerate various behaviors that occur. Murrieta went traditional less than 10 years ago and it worked out for them. The students didn't suffer and the strain of year round on speech therapists, school psychologists and school counselors was reduced. Of course salaries would need to be readjusted but students come first, not the extra $10,000 to $20,000, a 215 teacher may earn in working those extra days.
    Problem solvers need to THINK of the Big pictures. Don't make kids suffer, make education work for everyone.

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  32. Teachers have been forced to cut way back on their copies, which in turn takes away from the learning and practice that students could be exposed to. Valuale lessons, homework, and assessments have all been cut to reduce the number of copies that they make. Yet at the same time the district continues to send out mounds of paper work at the beginning of each new school year even though the technology is out there to do everything electronically, like Temecula does. This is just one example of how the district expects its teachers to make enormous sacrifices without having to make any of their own. When will the district office and administration have to step up? I think the time is now!

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  33. I completely agree with the Private school arguement. Then what will their ADA look like? There is no way that I am going to put my child into a half day kinder program with 30 students. I would rather have credit card debt and ensure that my child have the best start possible to her and that is not in a public school setting with 30+ kids with priorities completely in disarray. I sincerely hope that just because the Board does not have their priorities correct that the teachers and administrators still have the courage to do what is right for children.

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  34. Hire a new Superintendent! And why do the middle schools have 3 administrators? Go to one track now!!!!
    Promote early retirement programs!
    Save the music and art programs! Menifee go to Blockbuster and watch "Mr Holland's Opus" music makes a difference in a learners life. Rent Dead Poet's Society, Freedom Writers, and October SKy and remember educators make a difference in the life of a child!!
    Students need creative outlets. In fact Menifee doesn't offer enough, don't cut what little options they currently have!

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  35. More schools should offer after school care to generate more revenue, Callie and Freedom Crest should have after school programs that may be a necessity if the district cuts busing. Middle school students can walk to middle school if they are just 7th and
    8th graders. Parents are more reluctant to let kids walk home when they are younger and sex offenders may be running around the neigborhood.

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  36. There are states that do not offer busing! Eliminating busing is not a new idea! Most of the elementary schools are withiin walking distant and so many parents already bring their kids to school. Or charge 300.00 dollars per bussing pass as the neigboring districts do. With the rate being prorated as the year goes on.
    Charge parents when their kids are absent excessively, SARB them, SARB them and get the DA to prosecute parents who do not value their childs education.

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  37. I have to say how proud I am of our community. It took a lot of comments before anyone mentioned "those kids" and the citizen issue. We all need to ignore those comments. I still am amazed that reserves are only 3%. I have heard for years they have 7-9% or more stashed away. I think "creative financing" is at work and there is a shell game going on with money. We need some smart people to see through it. Some long time board members do need to go. It is obvious that Class Size Reduction is a must. THANK YOU PARENTS WHO SUPPORT THIS! Please come to the board meeting and voice your opinion. How about some signs, banners, etc.! Go Menifee!

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  38. Thanks for keeping Menifee/Sun City Safe from Terrorists, for the tax money we have spent on the Iraq War, we could have hired 287 elementary school techers.

    http://www.nationalpriorities.org/tradeoffs?location_type=4&state=6&town=0.000041726786787099300000000000&program=282&tradeoff_item_item=280&submit_tradeoffs=Get+Trade+Off

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  39. The poster who wrote the following has a great idea!! Worth reading again...(and cutting from the administration level needs to be added on to it)...

    Menifee should go traditional now instead of in 2009. Keep the 6th graders at the elementary schools. Two new elementary school are opening and they are talking about closing Menifee elementary, whats the point of opening a new school if one needs to close?? Eliminate 215 positions, that would save the district money. Go to one track, keep the middle school only 7th and 8th graders, that would open up all the classrooms presently used for 6th graders. There would be room at the elementary schools for K-6 with the population dropping. Maybe the district should offer early retirement programs as other districts have done in the past then teachers earning over 80,000 dollars would be replaced by a newer less expensive educator with new styles and methods to engage learners as well as the patience to tolerate various behaviors that occur. Murrieta went traditional less than 10 years ago and it worked out for them. The students didn't suffer and the strain of year round on speech therapists, school psychologists and school counselors was reduced. Of course salaries would need to be readjusted but students come first, not the extra $10,000 to $20,000, a 215 teacher may earn in working those extra days.
    Problem solvers need to THINK of the Big pictures. Don't make kids suffer, make education work for everyone.

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  40. No, not all families live within walking distance to the schools, we live about 4.5 miles from Freedom Crest, as well as most of the north side communities. I am willing to pay extra money for bus passes, but just feel eliminating buses should not be an option at all. The district needs to think about the safety of our children if some parents are forced to have their kids walk to school

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  41. The comment that said, "Eliminate 215 positions, that would save the district money." Sure that would save money, but I think there are better ways without laying people off and leaving 215 people without jobs. I am just trying to understand where that number, 215, comes from?
    I agree we should not open the new schools since that will save about 1.1 million dollars, and I think we should cut from the top (district office people, superintendant...) We need to keep class size reduction for our children and the teachers.

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  42. KEEP SMALLER CLASSROOMS!! I have a 2nd grader at Callie K who was having trouble "focusing" in class. Instead of labeling him as lazy and perhaps even with a learning dissability, his teacher was able to take the time to understand and meet his needs as a student. Turns out he now is sent home with more challenging homework than the rest of the class and is reading at a 4th grade + level. His teacher keeps in weekly contact with me on his progress. This would not be possible with a large classroom to keep track of. The academic and social success of our children is VITAL to their success as members of society. Lets let our teachers be as succesful as they can be with our kids! Lets let them do their job in an appropriately manageable classroom. MAKE THE OTHER CUTS AND LEAVE OUR CLASSROOMS SMALL!!!!!

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  43. 215 Positions refer to the educators (usually this is Speech teacher and Resource ), support staff (Resource/Speech aides, secretaries, janitors) and administrators that work 215 days per year instead the usual 184 days. Therefore they make more money... Going to a single track calendar or traditional would put everyone on a 184 work-day pay scale = $ savings to the district, but since the positions are few, how much it would save is not known right now. The Board did request the District figure out how much it would save if the smaller schools did go single track, so we should know next week. However, unless we open the two new elementary schools, a new middle school, and redo RES school boundaries, we cannot go on this schedule as a district, but currently some specific sites might be able to that have small enough enrollment. The other issue is the district receives, or is projecting to receive, a $2million grant from the state for continuing year-round education. So the million dollar (literally) question is- How much would single track save compared to the $2 grant and $1.1 m to open the new schools plus the cost of the middle school that is not scheduled to open for a couple more years. Ahhh, the complication continues...

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  44. Thanks for clearing up the 215 position comment. I understand it now, though as you say it is still very complicated! Hopefully they will have the numbers on Tuesday to see how much the savings would be for the district. You think they should already have those numbers. It doesn't seem like they went through all their options. It was just whatever popped in their heads at the time. I know we need a lot of people to show up on Tuesday to give their opinions.

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  45. Many of the surrounding districts are also looking for viable solutions for making the necessary budget cuts. Some of the options they are considering or have already implemented are; freezing wages/raises, cutting positions at the administrative level, early retirement incentives, increasing the number of job share positions, closing schools (in our case delaying the opening of two new schools), and making sacrifices/cuts at the district level. The other districts' priority is to make sure that the cuts do not affect the children and the teachers. That should be our districts priority as well. Eliminating class size reduction will do nothing but harm our children and result in many teachers being laid off. I hope our board members will do the right thing by preserving the 20 to 1 ratio in the classroom. Please attend the next meeting so that we can express to the board that our children come first.

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  46. Exactly how many teachers do you think make over 80 thousand a year? In this district, not many! And, as for retirement who can pay for health benefits and property taxes on a retirement income? I do like your other ideas though. They definately need to be explored with a good calculater, a math genius, and some financial honesty perhaps we can come up with a great solution. Keep talking Menifee!

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  47. I just don't understand why the district thinks it has to keep an amount over 3% in reserve. Almost Every option listed for cuts has amounts upwards of $500,000 past the state required 3% reserve. The state says keep 3%, so that is all you need to keep. This district needs to realize that this is an emergency and instead of dropping class size reduction they need to use all accumulated reserves past 3%. It is hard to believe that a board and a district would choose to have a little extra in reserve for "just in case" when they could use it right now for keeping Kindergarteners and 3rd grade classes at an appropriate level.
    848,000 in savings in K and 3 would come mainly from teacher salaries. Meaning the newest teachers losing their jobs and probably never coming back to the Menifee district. How How How can losing class size reduction and teaching jobs make more sense than using some money from the reserves and postponing opening a school.
    What do you all think about this? I also agree with the idea of the superintendent giving back her raise until a more appropriate time.

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  48. For the person who lives 4.5 miles from Freedom Crest: There are lots of Mom groups and other social groups within and around the schools. A well organized car pool can add a lot to the community in terms of meeting social and practical needs. Schools are not responsible for student safety until they are on a bus or on campus. Bus rides are not provided for the reason of safety. If the community gets more involved then the District and public taxes do not have to cover so much of what should be a parental responsibility. The price for transportation is high and they are going to have to raise it if we keep bussing.

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  49. Hello! 800lb gorilla in the room. Didn't anyone else notice that not one dime in cuts was suggested for the MUSD district office? There were plenty of cuts for classrooms and kids but not one for high paid administrators.

    It seems that Lake Elsinore's School Board is on the ball though. Feb. 21st Press Enterprise Page B7, "District details budget woes to parents":

    "Since January, the (Lake Elsinore) district has cut about $3.1 million by freezing administrative salaries, reducing each department's budget by 10 percent, requiring administrators to substitute in classrooms, and eliminating or downgrading 25 administrative and managerial positions."

    Maybe we should elect their board to represent us as well in the future. At least they're representing the taxpayers and not the taxpayers' employees.

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  50. Wow!! Administrators subbing? That is impressive! Go Lake Elsinore!

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  51. I sure hope that the District is reading all this. A district making sacrifices in admin. instead of in the classrooms? Unfortunately, without A LOT of public pressure Menifee Union will decide behind closed doors and dictate what they want done. They have always been a conservative district. They have to have more reserves than 3%. Next year will be tough on everybody but will not affect test scores or the kids positive school experience if we can keep class size reduction.

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  52. Your comments are being read by this board member.
    Mrs. Phoeba Irey

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  53. What happened to the kids being our main agenda? If we say as educators the primary focus is on the kids and their education, how can it even be considered to overcrowd the classrooms? K is so important for setting the foundation for the kids academic and social success for the rest of their education. As a parent,I sincerely hope this proposal loses all consideration as an answer to the budget crisis. Delay the opening of the new schools. Don't delay the oppurtunities and success of our future generation.

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  54. As a teacher in the district, we received clarification that the vote on Tuesday was not an "official" one; therefore eliminating elementary music, elementary counseling, and/or reducing middle school counseling are still on the chopping block. I am thankful for this since they really need to have as many options as possible and this allows them to more thoroughly research the items up for elimination and/or reduction. I just thought the public should know... PS. Thank you Mrs. Irey for being interested enough in public opinion to be reading and thoroughly considering our thoughts.

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  55. I hope our board members are doing more than reading these posts. I hope they are realizing that eliminating class size reduction would be disastrous for our children and teachers. Our community DOES NOT want class size reduction eliminated! We want the cuts AWAY from the classroom. Choosing to cut teaching jobs and making no cuts at the administrative level and at the district office is unacceptable. Most of our teachers live in our community, and laying them off will only increase the instability of our local economy. There are many things that can be done to save money and jobs. Number one being delaying the opening of the two new schools!

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  56. I think cutting transportation will result in money lost for the district when kids can't make it to school

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  57. I say eliminate some of the 4 assistant superintendent positions and save several hundred thousand dollars. Keep the cuts away from the classrooms and the children!

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  58. How about having EVERYONE pay the same price for bus passes and eliminate the "low income" discounted ones, and raise the bus passes. Don't take it away, this will be detrimental to families

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  59. It is amazing to me that the School officials find the Bus Drivers so easily disposable..
    These are the folks up at 5 am every morning to make sure students get to school . Cutting the Transportation Dept. means alot of people losing their jobs...
    Single Moms, Retired People, Wives helping out their families...Our friends and neighbors....I guess sacrificing all these people is ok as long as the administation doesnt lose anything personally...

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  60. I vote for the delay on the opening of the two new schools. I do not think that eliminating "class size reduction" is a logical solution to the problem. Children are still being "left behind", and teachers are overwhelmed with no aides other than the parent volunteers. A larger class would only be a detriment to teaching and learning.
    I would like to know what the answer was to that parent who asked about a cut on salary for school officials... How come that was not in the considerations?

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  61. I don't think leaving two brand new elementary schools empty is a good idea. I think they will be vandalized and start to deteriorate and become eyesores in the community. Why not have the Quail valley school become a K-8 school and eliminate alot of the busing costs? Get rid of free bus passes, pare down the number of administrators and counselors.

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  62. That's not a bad idea. I also like the idea of having all the elementary schools keep 6th graders at the elementary level and having middle school be for 7th and 8th. Plus moving to a traditional schedule. Those sound like great moves. I would be interested to find out if the savings that would come from moving to a traditional schedule would outweigh the grant the district receives from the state for being on multi track.

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  63. The kids should come FIRST. The classrooms should stay smaller. The teachers that are in the lower grades have a hard enough time with 20 kids. We don't pay them enough as it is, now you want to add to their work load? That doesn't sound right. How about the school board and the admin office take the hit. 17% raise? When was the last time the teachers got that sort of raise?

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  64. What about shutting down Menifee Elementary for good and turning it into something else for the district that would generate money such as before/after school programs for example?

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  65. Another idea for a use for Menifee Elementary if it is shut down would be move the district office into that building. Then they could get rid of the expense of the buildings they are currently using....

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  66. 1st - Why is it that the district bought 1 series for English Language Learners, than turned around and easily disposed of those materials and bought a whole new curriculum. The current reading series has an English Language Support system, why not use that? Wouldn't it make sense to support the English Learners with the stories, vocabulary and spelling that they already are doing in class instead of exposing them to a totally new story, vocabulary list, etc. If the state requires the text book companies to include this piece, why can't the district allow us to us it?

    2nd- How can a district cut costs from the classroom? Teachers are expected to maintain test scores, both federally, statewide, and district wide, yet they want to add more students to the classroom.

    3rd - I don't believe anyone wants to see anyone in the district loose a job, however, you need to look at what is REALLY necessary. Teachers, curriculum, and the materials to get Menifee students to achieve should be the first concern of our board and they need to stay out of the classroom.

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  67. There is a slide show on the district website that details populations at each school now and if we were on a trad. or mod. track system. If 6th graders stay at the el. schools, wouldn't we have very crowded conditions? Have those of you who have suggested this looked at the numbers? I am just wondering if these are well thought out, or educated, proposals.

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  68. PLEASE COME TO THE NEXT MEETING! Menifee Valley Middle School on Tuesday, Feb. 26th at 4:00! We need to join together and fight the cuts being aimed at our children's classrooms. To have more than 20 children in a classroom in grades K – 3 should not even be an option! We need to say NO to the removal of CSR (class size reduction).
    I think by delaying the opening of the new schools problems could arise. Vandalism! This would probably also put us further away from a single-track option, which to my understanding would save us money. Our schools are already overcrowded!
    I think we need to closely look at the spending of our district office! They have not proposed any cuts for them! 17% raise...??? Ridiculous! Give it back! This is not the time for that! How many assistant superintendents does our district need? While yes we are growing, we are still on the small side! Eliminating one or more of these positions would save $.
    All cuts considered need to be as far away from the classroom as possible! Teachers are already functioning on almost no budget for their classroom supplies. Teachers spend close to or more $1,000 a year for their classrooms. WOW! They are spending that money out of their own pockets on our children. Only $250 of which is a tax write off. Their copies have been cut tremendously which has affected their teaching and homework. Less decodable books are coming home now that they have a cut off amount to deal with. What happens when they run out of their copies? I know a couple teachers that have gone to Stapples/Kinkos to run their copies. Unbelievable that this is happening. Do teachers really get paid enough to be spending all this on our children? I don't see the district being held to a certain number of copies! We need to see how the districts money is being spent. It is most certainly not being spent in the classroom where it is needed most.
    While there is a genuine concern about attendance dropping with the removal of busing, most districts do not offer busing! It is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to get their students to school on time! If they don't make their children a priority by getting them to school on time then SARB them!! Take them to court.
    While music is very valuable, such a small group of our students are being given the opportunity to have music time. I think that music can be something that parents pay for. My daughter doesn't really want to learn the recorder... she would love to play the piano. I am paying for lessons outside of school! Just like I do for dance and softball.
    Whatever your thoughts may be, it is important that you make your voice heard at the meeting on Tuesday. As parents we need to take a stand and unite to fight for our children’s education! They are the future!

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  69. It has been said the most important element in a child's educations is his teacher. Recently the superintendent in Los Angeles schools stated that he would not lose a single teacher to the budget crisis. Beyond academic importance, at the elementary level, the teacher is entrusted with the safety of their students. In today's environment, that task has become much more formidable and difficult. Teacher layoffs and increasing teacher/student ratios will only magnify that problem. We realize Menifee is faced with harsh economic realities; however, we urge you to consider all other budgetary avenues before laying off any of the teachers that are the life blood of your district. We believe that the safety of our children as well as their academic potential would be greatly compromised if teacher/student ratios were to be increased.

    Many districts are looking at "Golden Handshakes" as a way of reducing expenditures while still maintaining student/teacher ratios in acceptable ranges. The state legislature could enact laws to carry some of the financial burden such as their previous 2+2 plan. Unifying the elementary and high school districts could bring about a greater coordination and articulation between the two groups as well as saving considerable moneys with fewer administrative costs. While music programs are very beneficial, much money could be saved in that area. Teachers who agree to opt out of the districts Health plan should be justly compensated. This would encourage more employees that have double coverage because of their spouses employment to drop their coverage. This could result in huge fiscal savings.

    Whatever is decided, the decisions will certainly be difficult. We believe that whatever cuts are made, that the loss of teachers jobs should be the last resort.

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  70. "While there is a genuine concern about attendance dropping with the removal of busing, most districts do not offer busing! It is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to get their students to school on time! If they don't make their children a priority by getting them to school on time then SARB them!! Take them to court"

    Of course children are a parent's responsibility, but there are also many factors involved with transportation issues. What if the parent has no car? Is disabled and cannot walk the long miles to get the kid to school? Does not know anyone to start a carpool together or if they do, its out of the drivers way to come pick up their kid? Or both parents work to make ends meet so they have to use the bus? It's so easy to say the above comments unless you're in that person's shoes that relies on bus transportation. JMO

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  71. I really hope all of the bloggers on this site attend the meeting tues to help guide our board members in what the community wants. We need to remember that although our growth has slowed, it has not stopped. The growth is down to approx 2% - 3%, but that is still growth. Our schools are too crowded and I, a teacher in the district, hope we continue to open the new schools and keep Menifee Elem. open for those families. I - for the person at the beginning who said teachers like year round - do NOT! We lose atleast 2 days of instructional time packing up and moving in to or out of a new classroom every trimester or for roving teachers - every month. That is not productive to student learning and higher achievement. Why do you think every other district has gone back to traditional schedules? We still need the new schools - we are soooooo crowded. I do agree that onsite childcare should be considered. I know Murrieta has it at all sites and it is not cheap. It could be a way to make money for the district and help our families.

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  72. Who would want there children to go to that district?

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  73. Since the teachers in Menifee that have been around for a while are terribly underpaid and haven't had a raise since their 15th year of teaching. (No, I am not one of them) How about giving them the option of a buyout to eliminate their higher salaries. A cash amount OR how about even giving them some sort of service credit. Maybe five years and then they would definitely have something to consider and it wouldn't be an immediate hit to the district financially. The district would also be helping them out with their retirement. Almost like a "I'm sorry" for not giving you raises at different steps up to 25 years like almost every other district scale in So. Cal. One day left to think outside the box. What else can we think of besides hurting the kids and teachers of this district.

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  74. As a younger teacher I really respect our site administrators and think their job is very difficult with IEP's, lawsuits, keeping staffs together, etc... I think that principals really need to have AP's at their sites and the smaller schools should have one AP to share to deal with discipline and all the loads of things that come up on a daily basis. When I hear cut Administration I think at the D.O., not the school sites.
    Even if the Superintendents raise numbers are not accurate (17% over three years) it is a lot more then the teachers got (4% COLA)most likely with 0% for the next two. How about the Superintendent taking what the teacher's got. That makes sense to me. Does she work four times harder or four times as long as I do????

    Vandalism at the new schools could be a problem; however, an eight to ten dollar an hour security guard costs a lot less then running A/C at two more sites for the whole summer plus all the other operational costs. Just an idea.

    Keep them coming Menifee and SHOW UP TOMORROW to voice your opinion, whatever it may be! The most important thing is to keep the cuts away from the classroom.

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  75. We have heard that the budget reserve built up was 12% to 15% of this years budget. What happened to this money?

    If this not a true percentage, how do we find out exactly how much we had in reserve this year and where it went.

    We need to have the exact amt. before we make any of the suggested cuts.

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  76. Save Menifee Elementary - soon to be a California Distinguished School!

    Did you know that Menifee Elementary is in the process of earning "California Distinguished School?" Shut down a California Distinguished School????? Where is the sense in that?????

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  77. Delay the opening of the new schools!!!! Why close down an awesome school - Menifee Elementary!!!

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  78. “While there is a genuine concern about attendance dropping with removal of busing, most districts do not offer busing! It is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to get their students to school on time! If they don’t make their children a priority by getting them to school on time then SARB them!! Take them to court.”

    “Of course children are a parent’s responsibility, but there are also many factors involved with transportation issues. What of the parent has no car? Is disabled and cannot walk the long miles to get the kid to school? Does not know anyone to start a carpool together or if they do, its out of the driver’s way to come pick up their kid? Or both parents work to make ends meet so they have to use the bus? It’s so easy to say the above comments unless you’re in that person’s shoes that relies on bus transportation. JMO”

    Well, I have walked in the shoes of a single mother who had to be at work (30 minutes from Menifee) at 7am. As you know, Menifee Elementary schools are not open for drop off until about 7:20 at the earliest. So I guess it is easy for me to say that! I barely made ends meet for 4 years by cutting out everything I could in order to afford private childcare with transportation to school for my daughter, because it was my responsibility as her mother to make sure she got to school safely everyday.

    I realize that the lack of transportation could cause extreme hardship, however so would getting rid of class size reduction. From the figures mentioned by the board transportation costs Menifee a huge amount of money and if we were to let it go we would be better able to afford to keep class size reduction which in my opinion and a great opinion of others is vital to our children’s educational success.

    Now that we have clarified that I and probably many others out there, have walked in the shoes of someone who struggles to get their children to school, but did whatever it took to get them there, I still say “It is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to get their students to school on time!” It is not our districts responsibility! Save that money for the classroom!

    I will see you all tonight! I hope we are there loud and strong together!

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  79. I couldn't make it to the meeting, does anyone have any news?

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  80. As a parent of one of the 320 students being displaced at this time....The board just LOST many parents/tax payers respect by
    CLOSING MENIFEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
    so all of you commenting imagine having to look at your child and saying thatTHEIR SCHOOL IS CLOSING.
    so just remember all of us at MES.

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  81. Well, the Menifee Union School District has done it - Bus drivers get to keep their jobs - from 8 hours a day to 3 1/2 hours a day - boy, that hurts. On top of this, they will lose their health benefits. Have they gotten so cold that they would rather hurt someone that is just making ends meet or cut fat the the district level. They have one superintendent, three assistant superintendents, god knows how many directors, and on top of that every department is flooded with employees (all of which are paid far more than any of the staff at schools, except for maybe some teachers and principals. I attended the meeting on Tuesday and it was obvious they had their mind all made up. Mrs. Peters says she care so much for Quail Valley that she is blinded by the true meaning of a fantastic school - it is not buildings. Menifee Elementary has some old buildings but it has a lot of new buildings too. They also have a huge amount of technology. It doesn't make sense.

    Anyone ready for new board members - ????????

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  82. Don;t trust Menifee District - they had a bond measure to help rejuvinate Menifee Elementary and now they are kicking the staff and kids out and telling the commuinity to pass a bond and two years later close that school down.

    Pay attention to measure B - who knows what they will do this time.

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  83. Have you seen the way some of these parents drive around the schools? Illegal U-turns,pulling out if front of each other and no reguard for anyone else ? And some of you want to count on others to help carpool kids to school? Go to MVMS at 3:00 and watch this fiasco in action...Its easy to sit back and say, "If the kids don't show up turn them in for truancy" because you have a car and someone else doesn't or their car is broken down..It's funny how all the new schools are in new neighborhoods where parents can afford better things in life...I know one neighborhood in Quail Valley has been there years, did they put a new school there, where some parents don't have cars ? NO
    They put it a mile down the street where the new homes were built and parents can afford a car...The people saying its the parents resposibility to get their children to school obviously arn't in that situation ...Maybe they should think of the less fortunate ...I highly doubt they will be the first ones running to offer to carpool the less fortunate kids....The only kids suffering are the ones from older neighborhoods...I'm encouraging those parents to pick up and move out of the district...That will send a very clear message to the board that they should have cut the administration wage increases and put that money towards more transportation for kids farthest away from schools....

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  84. I noticed one topic wasnt brought up and that is school supplies.. now i'm not sure how much the district would save or if it is even worth it, but when my family moved to this area i noticed that we dont have to purchase school supplies for our children because the district provides them already.. what happened to the days of taking your kids shopping for their supplies, and why rely on the district to supply only certain supplies, then have the teachers turn around and nag parents for what they really need in the classrooms. i'd much rather supply my children with their basic needs then purchase items for the classroom, for which the district could be supplying those items instead.

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