NEWMAN - The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District is asking its employees to take three unpaid furlough days in the 2020-21 fiscal year to help reduce a budget shortfall.

Superintendent Randy Fillpot said the planned furlough days will account for about $500,000 in savings. That cost savings is part of $3.5 million in spending cuts identified in the 2020-21 budget, which goes before the school board Monday evening, June 15, for adoption.

The school board earlier this week approved amendments to the work year of certificated and classified management employees as well as the superintendent’s contract to enact the furloughs.

Fillpot said that the district has met with representatives of its teachers and classified employee unions to negotiate furlough days.

While those agreements have not yet been finalized, Fillpot said the union representatives have been receptive.

“Our local constituents have basically approved it,” he told Mattos Newspapers. “They are waiting for regional approval from their unions.”

The furloughs would result in salary cuts averaging 1.4 percent across all employee groups, according to the superintendent.

School board members Monday expressed willingness to reduce their own stipends as well.

“I think it would be a good show of support for our staff,” said Janice Conforti, board president.

Fillpot said board members currently receive a monthly stipend of about $250.

Board members agreed, though, that matching the percentage salary reduction being asked of employees would not be sufficient.

Trustee Tim Bazar suggested a $50 monthly reduction.

“Fifty dollars doesn’t sound unreasonable,” said RoseLee Hurst. “We have the option of doing more if we want on an individual basis.”

Vern Snodderly said he will forego his entire board stipend for the coming fiscal year.

Rather than deciding on an across-the-board amount, trustees agreed by consensus that stipends will be reduced by at least the percentage being asked of employees, leaving it up to each individual to decide what additional amount they will forego.

“I just think each board member has to make their own decision,” Snodderly stated.

The budget cuts for next year are coming through a variety of steps, including a reduction in projects funded by one-time money, the anticipated furloughs and the potential freezing of some vacant positions.

The board Monday also voted to lay off the district’s public relations/grant writer, JoAnne Lamas. Her position had been created in the fall of 2018.