The Tehachapi Unified School District held a special board meeting July 7 via a Zoom conference to discuss the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the upcoming school year.
"I wanted to share with you that we are on that road to figuring out how we may be able to open school and share the information that we have been collecting along the way," Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson told the board.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Larson-Everson detailed a resolution to decrease the number of certificated employees — without saying exactly how many — due to a reduction or discontinuance of particular kinds of services. The resolution involved administrative employees, not teachers.
"This is a very difficult conversation to have under the best of circumstances, and it is still a difficult conversation, even more so in the circumstances that we are in as a district," Larson-Everson said.
According to current legislation, Larson-Everson stated it was necessary for the board to take action regarding the state budget enacted June 30.
Although the budget will remain the same in the coming year, the new budget will not include cost of living adjustments, but more importantly, the school district will face significant deferrals in educational funding.
The superintendent stated three deferrals are possible at this time, however this number may increase to as many as six deferrals.
"We are currently faced with difficult uncertainties," the superintendent said.
Although the district is promised funding, it can expect to go perhaps five or six months without receiving it during the upcoming school year, totaling millions of dollars. To offset these deferrals, the district is faced with laying off or reassigning a certain number of certificated employees within the administration department.
"I think our objective going forward is to prepare to weather any storm so that we may be responsive to any needs of all of our students in this changing time. What it all comes down to is that we are going to be faced with significant cash flow issues," said Larson-Everson.
The superintendent went on to say that, should the district's employees as a whole know that they could be facing five to six months without a paycheck, they should find ways to cut their expenses and evaluate what they have in their personal reserves.
Currently, the district has approximately $8.5 million in reserves; however, the possible deferrals could wipe out the reserves.
During the public comment period, Paul Kaminski, retired principal and former interim superintendent, voiced his concern about possible layoffs, and suggested the district find other areas to cut instead of its employees.
In the end, the board passed Resolution 01JUL20 regarding layoffs, as voted by President Jeff Kermode, Vice President Nancy Weinstein, and trustees Rick Scott, Dean Markham and Jackie Wood. Trustees Joe Wallek and Leonard Evansic did not vote in favor of the resolution.