Calaveras school district considers eliminating music, sports

The Calaveras Unified School District needs to find a way to save $2 million to balance its budget, and many parents aren't happy with some of the possible solutions.

The school district still has some difficult decisions to make. Toyon Middle School faces possible closure in an effort to save money. But after heated discussions, the board voted to take some programs off the chopping block.

They call it the "cut list." It includes five elementary teachers, two middle school teachers and a high school teacher -- plus the elimination of administrative and maintenance jobs as well as cutting a preschool program. And those aren't even the most controversial cuts.

So how did the Calaveras Unified School District get into such a dire financial situation?

"Less revenue from the state, declining enrollment has been huge, a huge piece of the declining revenue from the state, and we have not made cuts to keep up with our declining enrollment," CUSD Superintendent Mark Campbell said.

But after suggestions to add music and athletic programs to the cut list, parents said they have to draw the line somewhere.

"My fear is that if it's on the list, no matter what, we are going to lose kids. We're going to lose kids right and left 'cause people aren't going to wait," one parent told the school board. "They're not going to wait to see if it gets back on, and then we're going to have a bigger problem."

"How do I tell my son you're going to go to high school here and not know if there's a music department to go to? If there is not a music department, he will be going somewhere else," another parent said during public comments.

In the end, the board voted to remove music and sports from the "cut list." They approved one phase of other reductions, but they'll still have to agree on more ways to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"At some point, the board's going to have to make a decision because you're not going to make a decision that everybody will be happy with, and frankly everybody will be unhappy because nobody wants to make any cuts whatsoever," Campbell said.

With sports and music off limits, the superintendent now has to come up with more than $400,000 in savings by the next board meeting or risk losing control of his budget to the county.


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