By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
If the November ballot initiative proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown passes, the district will likely have a $5 million deficit. If the initiative fails, the deficit will swell to $8 million.
“This is a huge challenge, bigger than we’ve had before,” said Superintendent Richard Tauer at the Feb. 9 Board of Trustees meeting. “The state budget system is broken.”
Since district’s are paid based on student attendance, the district is also hurt by both decreased enrollment and decreased per-student funding. This year, the state pays the district less than $5,000 per student, about $600 per student less than in 2007-08. Next year the funding level may increase by about $50 or decrease $300, depending on voters.
Possible “internal” reductions to the deficit could include furlough days or salary cuts for employees or a shortened school year. One across-the-board furlough day saves the district $267,000 per year. Cutting overall salaries by one percent saves $500,000.
Brown’s initiative calls for raised taxes to help pay for schools, but it doesn’t increase funding. If it fails, automatic cuts will kick in.
“The governor’s proposal provides no new money to schools if the ballot measure passes,” said Clarke Hampton, assistant superintendent for business services. “If it doesn’t pass, there will be major cuts in funding.”
Tauer said the ballot measure was an absolute necessity, but voters shouldn’t view it as a safety net.
“We need to have it passed, we really do, but I’m afraid its going to be billed as the savior of education,” he said. “The voters are going to think education is okay now. It’s not.”
Board of Trustees President Sergio Contreras thanked Tauer and Hampton on behalf of the other trustees.
“I appreciate the work your team is doing in terms of the budget and planning,” he said.
“Things do not look good from the state end, but from our end we’re working hard and working together to keep things going.”
The board will meet in a closed session tonight (Feb 16) and in an open meeting Feb. 23 to discuss the budget.