The Calexico Unified School District has a $6 million budget shortfall and has been facing the possibility of a state takeover in recent months.
Committee members were provided with detailed first interim budget information also available on the Calexico Unified School District’s Web site. District staff is already working on the second interim budget report that is due March 17.
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The fluidity of the budget, how it is structured, debt from past loans, mistakes by past administrations, relations with the Imperial County Office of Education, categorical funding, earthquake waivers, state cuts, property taxes and layoffs were among the topics touched upon.
However, Mayor Daniel Romero said if the state takes over, it will look at the district’s finances from “zero up,” and other committee members agreed that should be the place to start.
Committee member Carlton Hargrave reiterated, though, that most of the budget is in salaries and benefits, and, “We’re running out of time to make that up.”
Negotiations have not been reached between the district and the teachers’ union.
Some committee members brought up specific questions such as a breakdown of attorney and consultant fees or what the potential closing of a school would do, and they were provided with specifics by district staff.
Calexico Unified Superintendent Richard Fragale encouraged committee members to e-mail the district with more specific questions for next time and it will provide a breakdown of all attorney fees over the last 10 years before the next meeting.
The committee is made up of two school board members, the superintendent and some staff to answer questions, two members of each union, two city council members, three levels of principals, school site representatives, parents and community members.
The committee meetings are not considered open to the public.
The meeting got off to a slightly rocky start when Calexico Unified board member Joong Kim came to the meeting and was asked to leave since there were already the two appointed board members there. This also occurred at the first meeting.
When the committee was formed, Calexico Unified Board President Ruth Duarte appointed board member Norma Aguilar and herself to be the two board representatives. Having more than two board members at the meeting violates law.
While Councilman Bill Hodge was in attendance with Romero and Councilwoman Maritza Hurtado, the city attorney said if the three didn’t sit together and discuss city business, it would be permissible.
A handful of Associated Calexico Teachers members also tried to come but were also asked to leave.
Duarte said the committee was designed “not to lopside to any one area.”
The committee will meet again Feb. 27.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com.