By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The Westminster School District Board of Trustees approved its 2011-12 budget and reserved the right to reduce salaries or work hours during the upcoming year.
Because of cuts at the state level, schools are operating with a deficit of 20 percent on average, Assistant Superintendent Clark Hampton said. That is, districts have only 80 percent of the funds they would normally have.
The district is starting with a balance of $7.45 million and expects to bring in another $55.5 million, thanks to high attendance numbers. Total expenses, including contributions to a restricted fund and required reserves, are $60.3 million, so the district will have a small surplus of $2.65 million.
Hampton said that the budget is formulated using conservative enrollment estimates. Changes can be made when the actual numbers come in at the beginning of the school year. The best-case scenario is that attendance numbers are higher than estimated.
Though the district is in relatively good shape right now,
“The future is not looking too good right now,” Hampton said. “Our flexibility goes away down the road.”
In 2012-13, revenue will increase by roughly half a million dollars but the district expects to spend almost $5 million more. Because the district is required to have reserves on hand, it will end the year with a negative balance of almost $4 million.
By the end of 2013-14, the district will have a negative balance of $11.4 million. According to Hampton, the district will not be able to make up the shortfall unless and until the state closes the 20 percent deficit.
The board voted unanimously to approve the budget. But board Vice-President voted against the resolution that gave the district the right to reduce salaries and hours.
“My [no] vote comes from the idea that we have $5.5 million in reserves,” Mangold said.
But board President Jo-Ann Purcell argued that the resolution was necessary because of potential lawsuits. “This is to protect our school district,” she said.
Hampton said that the resolution is a precautionary step that notifies employees of the possibility of reductions ahead of time. He added that because of collective bargaining rights, any adjustments in salaries or hours required negotiation.