By Cambi Brown

DENAIR (CBS13) – Denair Unified School District in Stanislaus County is deep in debt, and now the district is proposing big cuts to teachers’ salaries as a way out.

Now more than $1 million in debt, the district is facing a state takeover.

“We have about $1 million that needs to be paid back,” said Walt Hanline, interim superintendent of the Denair Unified School District. “The teachers need to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

Hanline, who has been on the job just a few months, says erasing the debt is a top priority. But just how to do that is what the district and teachers’ association are really at odds over.

“You have a choice: Either it comes out of a teacher’s salary or a child’s education,” said Hanline.

He claims years of money mismanagement led to the district’s debt and everyone in the district has taken a pay cut except teachers, that’s why he’s asking them to take an 11-percent cut over the next three years.

“It’s time to stop blaming people,” said Hanline.

Barry Cole is a teacher at Denair Middle School, He’s also president of the teachers’ association.

“The issue is not if we will, but how much and how much is truly needed,” said Cole.

Cole says teachers are willing to cut their pay between two and five percent, but says 11 percent is too much.

Also adding to the problem is low student enrollment and low student test scores, which means fewer education dollars from the federal government.

“Students are already suffering. They’ve been suffering for years. We haven’t had money for supplies,” said Cole.

The district and teachers’ association do agree on one thing: They say they’re both looking out for the best interest of the students.

A meeting between the school board, county, and teachers union was planned for Friday night. Hanline says it will be the first educational meeting to attempt to get the teachers’ union on board.

If the takeover happens, it will be the ninth time ever the state has had to step in to help a district.


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