The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is run by an appointed superintendent. Only five counties in California have appointed superintendents. All other county offices of education have elected superintendents.
Last July 1, 2008, Dr. Charles Weis was hired by my County School Board Colleagues and myself. Dr. Weis (pronounced with a long "e") came to us from Ventura County where he was county superintendent for 15 years. You can read more about him here.
Dr. Weis has regularly updated the board and the SCCOE staff on the California state budget crisis, and its effect on the SCCOE and county programs. You've likely read news stories of the difficult decisions which are being made in school districts all across Santa Clara County: sports programs being cut, teacher furloughs, etc.
This is the latest update from our Superintendent which I think helps make the fuzzy Sacramento numbers game more relevant. Your local superintendents are likewise presenting budgeting discussions to your school boards. Ask them what's at risk this year. And next year.
For a list of your school district offices and the superintendent and board members, click here.
February 6, 2009
TO: All SCCOE Staff
FROM: Dr. Charles Weis , County Superintendent of Schools
The state budget situation remains unresolved and as maddening as ever. But we have received a bit more clarity to the situation that I wanted to share with you (as well as some encouraging news, which I’ll get to in a minute).
First off: I want to assure you that we have sufficient reserves to cover our payroll through the fiscal year. We are not considering issuing IOUs, requiring furloughs, or any of the other drastic steps you may have heard are being undertaken elsewhere.
Also, as you probably know, the federal economic stimulus package is expected to contain a significant amount of relief for education. The House and the Senate are still trying to hash out a final product, but it is clear that there is strong impetus to get it done as quickly as possible.
If the package does come through for education, it will be a welcome infusion of cash—but I want to let you know that it won’t be a panacea. The deficit in California is just too large. So, in Santa Clara County , we might expect the infusion of federal relief to mitigate our cuts by about half over the next 18 months.
Bottom line: We still are looking at having to make significant reductions; but we are in a more hopeful spot than we were just a few weeks ago.
One unfortunate side-effect of the goings-on in Washington can be seen in Sacramento . The work in the state Capitol to come up with a ridiculously long-overdue budget has been stalled even further, as legislators essentially wait for the feds to bail them out.
Of course, as I’ve said before, we at the COE do not have the luxury of waiting around. By law, we must make plans based on the governor’s proposed budget. Even if the federal package is approved by next week, then pushed out of Washington D.C. within a month, it would be another month before the funds were issued out of Sacramento . That takes us to mid-April at the earliest before we would have a clear idea of how much relief we would receive.
But as you may know, we are bound to notify teachers and administrators of layoffs by mid-March. Therefore, we will have to issue layoff notices, with the hope, of course, that we will be able to rescind them soon afterward.
We hope and trust that our financial situation will have clarified before the deadline to issue layoff notices to other employee classifications, which comes later in the year.
Now, for the good news I mentioned earlier. Recently I had a conversation with U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, who represents California ’s 17th District. He stated very clearly to me that the intent of the federal stimulus package is to keep people working, and to put the unemployed back to work.
That will be our guiding principle as we continue to navigate these difficult economic times. To the extent we can, we will try to keep people working, and to fill vacant positions that are essential to the work we do.
The economy cannot revive if people aren’t working. So we certainly will do our part in raising ourselves out of this recession. We are all in this together.
Thanks to the many staff members who have contributed money-saving ideas to the Idea Center on our Intranet. The more specific your suggestion on how we can economize, the better. I promise that every suggestion you make will receive our careful attention.
As always, thanks for reading.