Calaveras delays vote on cutbacks

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

The Calaveras Unified School District Board of Trustees did not choose Tuesday to close schools or eliminate sports and music districtwide, but those drastic cuts are still on the table when the board votes again Saturday.

More than 300 people attended the board meeting of Calaveras County's largest school district, many speaking passionately about the need for sports and music and some threatening to transfer their students if the cuts go through.

Calaveras County Supervisor Darren Spellman even called for the resignation of Superintendent Mark Campbell.

The entrance to the meeting was flanked by students - the Calaveras High School band performing on one side and sports players in jerseys holding signs on the other.

Numerous students, parents, community members and even government officials pleaded to the board not to cut the programs, despite the district's $2.8 million shortfall.

The Calaveras County Office of Education has ordered the deficit to be reduced within two years.

The district has been losing money because of declining enrollment for years and faced this immediate budget crisis when it misinterpreted that new state funds would all come immediately, when it instead will come over time, Campbell said earlier this month.

"Our situation is real; our situation is dark," Campbell said at the beginning of Tuesday night's meeting. "How do we save sports? How do we save music? And what are the school closures we're looking at?" he said, adding if the district takes anything off "the ugly list" of cuts, it must add something of equal or greater value.

The board also announced at the start of the meeting that it has accepted a voluntary 5 percent pay cut from Campbell, as well as three unpaid days off annually.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 20 edition of The Union Democrat.

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