School Districts Can Control Spending: Murrietta “Pay Cuts are Better than Layoffs” Edition

On this “Day of Action” for public education Murrietta Unified in Southern California offers up a positive example of facing the reality of shrinking education budgets.

The governing board and top administrators in the Murrieta school district will have their stipends and salaries cut 7.25 percent starting in July —- the same cut they are asking employees to agree to —- it was announced Thursday.

The Murrieta Valley Unified School District board voted unanimously to cut its own stipend as well as the salary and annuity contribution of Superintendent Stan Scheer and the salary and car allowances for the four assistant superintendents and the deputy superintendent.

The moves, effective July 1, are expected to save the district $75,245.50 in the 2010-11 budget year.

Cuts come as the district tries to ease an anticipated $14 million budget shortfall for the next school year.

It’s the second consecutive year the schools have faced large deficits. The current budget was buoyed by federal stimulus funds and by digging deep into reserves.

“The (budget) problems have not gone away,” Trustee Ken Dickson said. “It brings us to a very sad time to do things like this.”

All five trustees said cutting the salaries was a difficult, but necessary, move.

“This is really indicative of the reality we face,” Trustee Margi Wray said. “It’s not something you do lightly, but what we’re facing is real.”

Board member Paul Diffley said pay cuts are better than layoffs.