Lucia Mar school district plans to form committee to discuss ways to cut costs

A committee could be formed by August to review Lucia Mar Unified School District attendance boundaries and start discussing whether to close a school, consolidate students or find some other way to cut costs.

That’s the timeline trustees voted 6-1 to follow Tuesday night. Trustee Erik Howell dissented.

By December, committee members would make recommendations to Lucia Mar Superintendent Jim Hogeboom, who would make recommendations to the school board in January.

Closing a school could save $300,000 to $400,000, Hogeboom has estimated, by eliminating costs associated with the campus administration and maintenance.

Savings could help the district in future years — but not soon enough to ease the cuts proposed to close an estimated $5 million shortfall in the 2010-11 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

District trustees voted last week to issue final layoff notices to 67.9 full-time-equiv­alent positions, affecting 74 credentialed employees.

Members of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association, which has started negotiations with the district, have suggested that the district offer an early retirement incentive to reduce the payroll and fill the vacated positions with some of the 55 teachers who received layoff notices.

The union has also decided that it won’t accept the district’s current offer. Association President Kevin Statom said the offer includes a proposal to reduce the teachers’ work year by six days — cutting five school days — resulting in a 3.2 percent pay cut for teachers.

He said that the district has offered an early retirement incentive but only to employees above a certain level and only if teachers agree to a six-day furlough.

“If we agreed to those conditions and did not reach the level of 35 retirees, then not one job of our currently laid-off employees would be saved,” Statom wrote in a news release Friday.

Meanwhile, district principals and other administrators have discussed taking furlough days in the next school year to save money. Trustees will consider that proposal June 1.