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FUESD to vote on increase for teachers

After seeing a modest increase in student enrollment in its schools for the 2008-2009 academic year, the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) governing board will be asked to approve a two-percent salary increase for teachers and other certificated bargaining unit employees at a meeting on December 15.

The proposed amount, agreed upon by negotiators for the district and the Fallbrook Elementary Teachers Association, will be a one-time “off schedule” increase, meaning the pay increase be a one-time salary bonus and not a permanent increase in the teacher’s salary schedule. If approved, the increase will also be mirrored in paychecks of the district’s management staff as well.

FUESD Assistant Superintendent Jim Whitlock said the proposed increase is possible because of an unexpected increase in student enrollment for the school year which was not accounted for in the board’s budget. The increase allowed for certain monies to be reallocated and used to give the teachers the raise but would not have an impact on the district’s reserve funds.

Even with the State of California’s economic crisis dramatically affecting school districts across the state, Whitlock said there were no “widespread layoffs” or dramatic budget cuts made by the district at the beginning of the school year because the board elected to dip into its reserves to supplement the budget and is prepared to do so for a few upcoming years, unlike other school districts that cut back on classes and employees.

On top of the lack of support from the State, there had been a number of consecutive academic years with a declining student enrollment in the elementary district, which had left a significantly smaller amount of student enrollment fees for the district to use to supplement the year’s budget.

The increase in the district’s student enrollment for this year not only gave the district an increase in funding but also gave Whitlock hope that the district has gotten as small as it will and is “at a turning point” for growth in upcoming years.

The agreement between the district and the teachers association provides for an ongoing increase in the teacher’s salary schedule in the event that the district does receive an ongoing increase in state funding for the rest of the year.

Whitlock feels the chance of the State approving an increase in the revenue limit for schools is “unlikely” given the current fiscal woes.

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