MUSD education board approves budget while teachers, others, seek raises

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez Unified School District Board of Education approved a budget Monday that predicts $44,726,311 in revenues, but $46,143,568 in expenses.

But prior to the Board’s actions, a series of teachers and members of the Martinez Education Association said the District has lost 20 percent of its special education teachers and 12 percent of all teachers during the past year and a third of its certificated employees in the past three years, including several who had been named teachers of the year.

The teachers punctuated their statements with posters showing pictures of those who have left the district through retirement or accepting jobs elsewhere. They also tossed coins into a glass bowl that symbolized their call for a change.

Several cafeteria workers asked the Board to avoid another move under consideration – cutting their hours. Their situation will be decided at the Board’s August meeting.

In the approved budget, nearly $20 million has been earmarked for certificated salaries for credential teachers, librarians, health and developmental services, and more than $12 million would be spent on employee benefits.

Classified employees – those who are not teachers – account for more than $5 million in expenditures.

The new budget has nearly $1.7 million set aside for books and supplies and $6.1 million for services and operational costs, among other expenses.

The California Local Control Funding Formula has indicated the District would get $36,251,290 in revenue through state allocations and apportionments. Federal funds would supply nearly $1.4 million; nearly $4.3 million would come from other state sources and more than $2.7 million would be from local sources.

Martinez Adult Education teachers, who are paid through the separate Adult Education Block Grant rather than the District’s General Fund, will get raises because that grant’s budget for Martinez Adult Education has been given a 4.1 percent cost of living increase allocation by the state an overall 9.1 percent increase through renegotiations.

The Board approved the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan after meeting with parents, teachers and other members of the public to compose a set of goals, priority areas, expenditures and actions for its schools.

It ratified a contract with District Superintendent C.J. Cammack that extends his employment through June 30, 2020, and amended it to keep his salary at its current level unless both certificated and classified employees receive raises.

District residents will get the chance in November to say whether the current parcel tax of $50 each should not only be extended another five years but also increased to $75 each, the Board decided.

However, several members were concerned the way the information has been worded is confusing and suggested it be revised.

The current rate produces $500,000 for music and art education, counseling and library staff. If it is increased to $75 a parcel, the tax would generate $750,000 and address increased costs.

Cammack said research has shown voters would be willing to approve the increase and time frame, but were reluctant to endorse a higher increase or longer term.

The Board also approved asking for a consolidated election Nov. 6, combining the District’s Board elections and other measures with those of other Contra Costa County races as well as the general election for state and federal offices.

A series of community forum meetings on safety will give residents as well as District employees an opportunity to weigh in on the topic, Cammack said. Those sessions are tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Alhambra High School., Sept. 13 at Martinez Junior High School and Sept. 17 at Morello Park Elementary School. However, those dates are subject to change, Cammack said.

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