By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
These days, less is less, and by the end of next year, it could be a lot less.
“This is a sad state that we’re in,” Superintendent Richard Tauer said. “We’ve not been having the best of times the last few years.”
The K-8 district will likely spend $76.4 million next year, a 0.1 percent increase from this year’s actual budget. However, funding projects to only $72.8 million, a $2.7 million cut.
Overall, funding has been cut by 3.5 percent, with a 25-percent cut in federal funding. State funding has been and continues to be down by about 22 percent.
“We’re receiving about 78 cents for every dollar the state owes us,” said Christine Fullerton, assistant superintendent of business services.
The district will use some restricted funds to cover the spending gap. Restricted funds are normally set aside for specific programs, but the state allows districts to use the money for general purposes when necessary.
Actual funding depends first on actual attendance figures and second on the November election. Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure raises the state sales tax and income tax for individuals making $250,000 or more to pay for education and public safety.
If Brown’s plan fails, the district could lose $441 per student per day in state funding by the middle of the school year. The school year could also be cut by up to three weeks.
An alternative tax initiative supported by the California PTA raises the income tax on most individuals on a sliding scale. The money would go solely to public education but it’s not clear how it would affect the current budget.
All WSD employees, including teachers, will take eight furlough days, including five on school days. So like this year, the school year will be 175 days instead of the usual 180 days.
“That’s probably the hardest part,” Fullerton said. “Our students deserve to have the same number of school days as before.”
On a positive note, the district’s average daily attendance rose last year. Schools are funded based on daily attendance, not on total enrollment.
Fullerton credited the increased attendance to the Westminster PTA’s “Ready Rabbit” campaign which uses coloring books and bookmarks to encourage students to get to school on time.
Third to eighth grade classes may be slightly bigger next year. The student to teacher ratio in grades three through eight will be slightly higher next year. Classes could have 31 students to every one teacher, up from the current 30 to one ratio.