Folsom schools could face more cuts

Survey triggers massive turnout at board meeting
By: Brad Smith, Telegraph Correspondent
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During Thursday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Patrick Godwin — who will be retiring next summer — and board members faced hundreds of residents concerned about next year’s budget. Due to the large crowd, the meeting was relocated from the Folsom High School library to the larger Multi-Purpose Room. Folsom Cordova Unified School District’s public information officer Stephen Nichols said that a “miscommunication” could have triggered the crowd’s appearance at the meeting. Nichols explained that recently the district had sent out a “survey” to students and their parents. “The district is facing a $10 million loss,” he said. “In order to balance out the budget, possible cuts might be made.” The district, he said, wanted another point of view. “If cuts have to be made, the district wants to know what courses and programs they (students and parents) feel are important,” Nichols said. During the meeting, Godwin assured the audience that the letter was intended for “gathering information,” nothing more. He apologized if others had misunderstood. “But, I’m glad that you’re here. It tells me that all of you deeply care about this situation we’re in,” he told the gathering. In order for the district to get through this, he added, everyone “needs to work together.” If some courses and programs have to be “potentially” cut, Godwin said those teachers have to be notified. “We want to avoid that. The board is aggressively seeking out new options,” Godwin said. Godwin said the current budget was balanced because of federal stimulus money. “Secondly, money set aside for other uses was allocated to the budget. We won’t have that option next year.” Balancing next year’s budget is a priority, Godwin said. If it isn’t balanced by March, the county would step in, taking over. “From that point on, the county will be making decisions regarding budget cuts and other issues — not us,” Godwin said. Nichols described the audience’s reaction as civil. “I feel that (the public) understands the situation. Like us, they want what’s best for the students and want to help find a solution,” he said. The morning after the board meeting, Nichols released a statement detailing Godwin’s plans to retire. “He’s been a professional educator for more than 36 years,” Nichols said, “with the last five of them spent as superintendent. On the average, superintendents spend two or two and a half years at a school before moving on. He’s been here twice that long.” Board President Ed Short said Godwin has “kept the kids first, even in these dire times.” He also thanked him for his years of dedication and commitment. Godwin steps down on June 30 of next year.