Puig presents a balanced budget to trustees; enrollment increases to 450

By Robert Morales —

CCAISD Superintendent Marc Puig on Monday night presented trustees
with a balanced budget for 2013-2014, but perhaps more important, he
told trustees that enrollment had increased to 450 students.

Last year, CCAISD began the year with 414 students. Mr. Puig said
that he expected enrollment to rise to between 460 to 470 students by
the end of the school year.

This is the second consecutive balanced budget presented to the school board in several years.

Previously, Superintendent Guillermo Mancha presented at least two
deficit budgets because he said that it was impossible to draft a
balanced budget based upon the economic conditions at that time.

“The budget is a quantification of our goals and objectives,” said
Mr. Puig. “The budget will be in alignment with our goals and
objectives. The budget that we balanced last year resulted in our
improved results. We increased professional development

last year by 110 percent. That's an investment in our teachers, our
principals, our school board, our auxiliary staff. This is the second
consecutive year we're proposing a balanced budget.

With respect to fiscal responsibility, we are now staffing to
formula. We are not staffing based on want. We are staffing based on
need.”

Last year, CCAISD did a facility assessment, and now the district is
considering a bond issue. Mr. Puig emphasized that there is no need for a
tax ratification election, otherwise known as a TRE. “We do need to
consider a bond [issue] because of the improvements that are needed.”

Last year, the district went through a reduction in force, forced
primarily by unsupportable numbers of staff. In other words, as
enrollment went down, hiring trends continued to climb – a practice that
almost always leads to the budget taking a hit. Mr. Puig said that his
objective was to reach a ratio of 7 in terms of number of staff to
numbers of students.

It appears that the district has reached that ratio.

He added that enrollment had increased for the first time in 12
years. At the same time, staffing is down to 64, the lowest it's been in
the history of CCAISD. “We're now staffing strategically.” He said that
since the Reduction in Force, staff members have been asked to do more,
which in turn results in a more streamlined operation with more
efficiency.

Mr. Puig discussed other aspects of his proposed budget, including:

Library Services: He said he had received a detailed report from Ms.
Jackson, a certified librarian. He said that the current condition of
the libraries were “atrocious.” He said the collections were out of date
and they weren't organized. Rather than staffing a full-time librarian,
two aides will be used to staff the libraries – one at the elementary
and one at the junior high school.School Leadership:

CCAISD now has two principals instead of three;Guidance Counseling:
47-percent decrease in the budget because of the cut from two counselors
to one;Food Services:increase in food services is a wash because
revenue comes from federal government in nutrition
services;Extracurricular Activities: spending was at about $435,000 per
year, was cut down to about $280,000; however there was a 16-percent
increase in the band's budget;Plant Maintenance:increase budget to
maintain teacher housing;

Per local policy, the superintendent has to recommend a compensation
plan, and he has to recommend any employee increase as part of the
annual budget. Last year, the board adopted a 10-percent raise for
auxiliary staff and teachers. In the history of CCAISD, this is the most
generous board of trustees. The new position of School Resource Officer
would increase the overall budget by about 1.3 percent. Formerly, this
position was funded through a grant. This would place an armed guard at
the schools, and it would monies for surveillance cameras.Salary
increases:Secondary Principal by 6-percent. Leadership responsibilities,
going from 97 students to 270 students. Director of Maintenance and
Transportation by 6-percent.New proposed tax rate: $1.0752, down from
$1.0772 in 2012