FUSD Slashed Millions from Budget

FRESNO, Calif. Faced with a $35-million dollar budget short-fall for the next school year, Fresno Unified's Superintendent Michael Hanson acknowledged the district's financial troubles and the painful cuts coming. "When you look at these, recognize there's not a thing up there we want to do, but there's everything up there we believe we must do."

At Wednesday night's meeting, the board approved moving forward with $16-million dollars worth of cuts.

Among them, cutting teacher work days, central office staff and secondary administrators and eliminating 50% of elementary education coaches.

They also approved two furlough days per year and increasing class sizes in K through 3rd and 9th grade -- actions that would eliminate nearly 180 positions.

Larry Moore was the only board member to vote no on the proposed cuts. "I understand we're in a financial crisis in the state and so forth, but before we do that, I believe our children deserve that we do everything we can to avoid going into that circle and hurting children."

Fresno Teachers Association president, Greg Gadams agrees. He says there are other ways to make cuts without laying off teachers and hurting students. "I'm not surprised by what they did tonight but a couple of the board members proposed using some reserves to be able to keep 163 teaching jobs and I was disappointed that the other board members just saw fit to cut it."

The board still needs to cut another $19-million dollars from next year's budget. The next meeting is scheduled for March 24th.

Wednesday night's approved cuts are pending until unions are notified. Administrators say it's likely another budget meeting will be scheduled before March 24th. And even though the district is facing a $35-million dollar budget short-fall for next year, they face an overall $68-million dollar short-fall over the next three years.

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