Communication Thoughts

July 26, 2010

Michael Itkoff has done a fabulous job keeping our membership informed through this blog. Now that Michael is our union president, he will be using FCEA site to keep us informed. You can also join the FCEA Facebook page, which is a closed group – meaning that only FCEA members can view its wall, discussion board, and pictures.

With the FCEA and Facebook sites, maybe our blog has served it’s purpose and we no longer need this forum to communicate? What are your thoughts?

If you would like to be responsible for updating this blog, then please let me know and I will be happy to pass on the posting information.

~Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez

[email protected]

Future Updates

May 30, 2010

Now that the tentative agreement has been ratified, we can look to the summer break from school and know that we, as an association, did the right thing to help the district.  True, we are losing some valuable teachers and programs, but we must be mindful of where to lay the blame, directly at the state. 

For nearly a decade the politicians in Sacramento have pursued a policy of having their cake and eating it too.  They continued to pass along unfunded mandates to local communities while at the same time, lately, robbing from them the revenuet hey derive to balance their own debt-ladened budget.

It has been a honor and a privilege to provide you with updates on this Blog these past two years.  I have been elected president of FCEA and look forward to continuing to provide you with clear, consistent communication via beginning in late July.  This will be my last post on this site and have returned control of it to its original author.  It is with great gratitude and thanks to her for allowing me to use this site to help facilitate communication over the last 24 months.  Thank you, Sarah!


Michael Itkoff,
Folsom Cordova Education Association

A Change is Coming….

May 27, 2010

With new leadership comes new opportunities for change.  A change is definitely coming. 

Please stay tuned…

School Board Meeting Update – 5/20/10

May 20, 2010

This will be short, but definitely not sweet.  [Secondary people please forward this on to your colleagues].
  • Blain White, District Lead Counselor, gave his final update to the school board as he, a 10 year employee of FCUSD, has been RIF’d this year.  Blaine has attended virtually every school board meeting as I have, and he is a consummate professional.


Mrs. Bettencourt presented the county-required third interim report to the board, which was approved.

  • Governor’s May Revise did include negatives.  Certain decreases will cost the district $836K in additional revenue that will need to be adjusted for in the final budget for next year.
  • Some additional monies have been found and have been carried into the ending balances.
  • Gov. has proposed suspending some mental health funding that would shift fiscal responsibility from the county to individual school districts.  Exact costs were unknown at this time.
  • Required Multi-year projections were:
    • 2010-2011 – Balanced (with or without the TA, but not accounting the additional $836K above)
    • 2011-2012 – $3.2 million deficit
    • 2012-2013 – $9.1 million deficit
    • The last two do not take into account any bargaining unit concessions as these are bargained on a year-to-year basis.


Mr. Godwin recommended against participating in the Phase 2 of the federal Race to the Top [RTTT].  Among the reasons:

  • Funding was very uncertain and spread over 4 years.
  • No opt-out clause that could leave the district financially liable for non-compliance on a variety of issues.
  • Revamped principal/teacher evaluation process that required it to be based on 30% on student standardized testing scores. [personal privilege - I have read this RTTT Phase 2 and agree, this is a hastily written, poor document, and terrible way to conduct education policy.  Oh, they (the state/feds) wanted us to sign on with 2-days notice]
  • Numerous other mandated reporting, data collection, and professional development requirements without funding.

FCUSD joined a lawsuit filed today against the state of California.  The Sacramento Bee reported it HERE.  Additional information can be found HERE.

This is a very interesting lawsuit, which the governor has immediately dismissed, does have the potential to force the state into significant changes.  There are many statutory and constitutional issues involved.  However, based on what I heard so far, this could be a very interesting legal fight that could finally result in some major changes in education funding in California.

This may be my last update for a while if the TA is ratified.  If it is not, please count on continued updates as they occur.  If it is ratified, which I believe it should, I will resume updates in July.

Until then, stay informed and stay tuned…

Attention Facebook Fans!

May 11, 2010

I have created a secure Facebook Group, Folsom Cordova Education Association (FCEA), to better facilitate communication among the membership.  It is completely secure and only members are allowed to join.  The FCEA Facebook Group has been established to give members a chance to collaborate and communicate with each other in a secure environment. This is Closed Group: everyone on Facebook can see the group, but the administrator must approve all membership requests or personally send invitations. Only group members can view its Wall, discussion board, and photo or video content. Non-members can view its Info and Recent News.

Please help spread the word to your FCEA Facebook friends!  Just do a FB search for FCEA.

Tentative Agreement Reached

May 9, 2010

The 2010 Tentative Agreement is now posted on the FCEA website.

School Board Meeting Update – 5/6/2010

May 6, 2010

Summary of the Board’s discussions & actions:


  • He reported that it is becoming quite clear that the Legislature has no intention of addressing the budget for next year until after the June primaries.  Worse, it seems the Assembly & Senate leaders appear to be prioritizing health and human services programs over education.  The Governor’s May Revise, due out next week [I think] will show some revenues are up, but personal income tax revenue is down [see HERE].

    Clearly, it is still vital that we keep up our communication with state leaders regarding education funding.  For more information on what you and others can do, go HERE.

  • Senator Harkin’s bill is still alive in the Senate to help save teachers’ jobs.  Link HERE.
  • He is hopeful about bargaining with FCEA and CSEA being able to reach an agreement.  [FYI FCEA bargains tomorrow]
  • He clarified an issue from the last board meeting regarding superintendent’s pay in surrounding districts.  Sac. City superintendent’s salary is $245,000 plus an $11,000 annuity purchased in his name only.  FCUSD super’s salary was later addressed at the end of the meeting with regard to an op-ed piece [HERE] in the Folsom Telegraph that was responded to by Teresa Stanley [HERE]


  • The Board adopted the certificated Stipulated Layoff Decision [HERE].  ***Please note that this action is, at this time, procedural in nature (also required by the county) and any agreement that can be reached between FCEA and FCUSD will change the layoff issue.  The stipulated layoff list would only occur if no agreement is reached and the district’s proposed program cuts are implemented in full.


  • There is movement in the state Legislature to change the Kindergarten birthdate cutoff.  You can find the latest version HERE.  You can follow its progress HERE.

As always, remain hopeful and stay tuned…

SJUSD saves K-3 CSR

May 1, 2010

Bee article is HERE.

It does not say what the teachers agreed to in order to keep CSR.

School Board Meeting Update – 4/22/10

April 23, 2010

Only a few, but important items of note: 


  • Ginny Bateman presented the History Day Winners.


  • Bill Miklos gave a very interesting history on the contributions of the Masonic Lodge, both locally and statewide, to education.  He ended with the reminder that the lodge has numerous scholarships out there anywhere from $500 to $10,000 for graduating seniors.


  • I presented for the Association.  First, I expressed the Association’s and my personal condolences to President Mark Schultz on the passing of his mother.  Next, I informed the Board that I had been elected President beginning next school year.


  • The Board approved the contract for the new Superintendent, Debbie Bettencourt.  The contract can be viewed in the School Board Packet, HERE, beginning on page 13.


  • The Board adopted Draft Option “B” 4:1 (Reinking voted No) (page 72 at the link above).
    • One parent spoke on the issue, and Nadine Cronkhite (Cordova High teacher) made a very persuasive argument the the early starts place many students the enroll in September at a severe disadvantage because they are so far behind (even further behind at a block-schedule school).  She also pointed out that two surrounding districts will be starting on August 23rd and September 7.
    • I spoke and made the following points based on rep council discussion and questions posed to me by other teachers:
      • I questioned whether 3 days was adequate time for the public and bargaining groups to review the calendar and make comments to the board.
      • I expressed to the board that other districts have differentiated calendars for elementary and secondary and the board should at least look into how those are working and how well they are received by the parents.
      • I suggested that if, IF, any furlough days are agreed to by the bargaining units, that the board should look at the ADA for this year to see if there was any positive or negative impact by having the days placed in February.
      • STAR testing and Spring break was discussed, and I clarified that many schools utilize a 3-week window to complete testing.


Hang in there…and as always, stay tuned….

School Board Meetin Update – 4/8/2010

April 8, 2010

  • As the only Exec. Board member in attendance, I introduced the team of teachers from Cordova Meadows as the spotlight school for tonight’s meeting.  Linda Purser gave a wonderful presentation of the day in the life at CM.  To which one board member responded, ‘we just heard a distinguished school presentation.’ 

    KUDOS! Cordova Meadows


  • State politicians are in a holding pattern through the June Primary & awaiting for the Governor’s May Revise [I agree]
  • Because the state has implemented delayed payments to districts, FCUSD has been forced to borrow funds from the Early Retirement Benefits Account and the Capital Outlay Fund 40 account to meet current contractual obligations [this will be replenished when the state releases their delayed funding].
  • Future SFSF (federal) one-time funding is expected in the amount of $800,000.  Coincidentally, the state has reduced the amount a district can sweep funds by $800,000 [effectively a theft by the state to get around the rules]


  • Expected budget shortfall for 2010-2011 is $13.9 million.
  • Superintendent’s Recommendation savings is $14.1 million, as seen HERE.
  • 2nd Interim Report filed with the county shows a $16.1 million ending balance for 2009-2010.  It was reported that those funds include:
    • $4.5 state mandated 3% reserve
    • $4.6 million Title I/EIA/ARRA [legally restricted; can't be touched]
    • $2.3 million site/department carryover
    • $1.4 Tier 3 Carryover [grants intended for special programs that will continue i.e. not be cut]
    • $3.3 Tier 3 swept balances


  • April 22 or May 6 the Board is planning to take final action on the RIFs
  • May 20 – 3rd Interim Report to the County
  • June 17 – the Board expects to adopt its budget
  • June 30 – the Board submits its budget to the county


There was a great deal of discussion after Mrs. Bettencourt’s presentation on the suspicion that the district’s 2nd interim budget report does not accurately reflect the district’s true financial status i.e. the district has additional money that is not showing up in the financial reports.  It was asked [not by me; I did not speak publicly], that if FCEA pays for an independent audit would the district be open to it?  Mr. Godwin responded that the district is audited by a state-licensed independent auditor that would lose his license to practice in this state if the accuracy of the reports were falsified or purposefully misreported.  Mrs. Stanley suggest that the teachers hire someone to review the documents for accuracy rather than a full-fledged audit.

After the meeting, I spoke with Mrs. Bettencourt and asked her two simple questions:

  • Does the County review/audit/verify the interim reports submitted by the district?

Yes, not only does the County verify that the reports are accurate, but they also send each district a letter outlining any errors found with specificity that is available to the public.

  • With regards to the second interim report and the suspicion that monies seem to have vanished from certain accounts, where has that money gone?

Certain accounts in the interim reports contain school site funds.  As those funds become available to be swept i.e. it is projected that those funds are no longer projected to be spent, they are moved into the ending balances account [what Mrs. Bettencourt termed 'savings account'].  She said the monies did not disappear, but were merely transferredto another account that becomes a part of the balances that can be legally swept by the district.  I will endeavor to find out from the county if this is indeed the case.

Our Budget Analysis Committee met with Mrs. Bettencourt this week.  There were numerous questions related to the above that were addressed in that meeting.   I look forward to receiving that report.  For a more detailed look at the most recent Budget Communication Committee meeting minutes, go HERE.

Mrs. Bettencourt offered to meet with any person or group [be it exec. board, rep council or otherwise], to answer any questions or concerns they may have regarding the budget numbers or reports.

It may seem like time is running out.  However, we need to let our bargaining team do its job.  Have faith, be patient, and as always, stay tuned…