Sat08302014

Schools

LASD officials examine budget deficit

Kenyon

As Los Altos School District officials await details on how Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget update this week affects the district, they continue to examine their own budget shortfall and search for possible solutions.

Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, May 9 reported the extent of the gap if the board budgets for solvency over a five-year period.

Kenyon said the school district faces a $6.5 million deficit (before including Measure E parcel-tax income of $2.3 million) for the 2011-2012 school year and a $10.55 million annual deficit in the following years and would need to cut approximately $9.85 million to remain solvent for five years. That is nearly one-fourth of the budget and would leave the district with 3 percent of funds in reserve.

While keeping 3 percent of the budget in reserves has been the historical legal norm for California school districts, for the past few years the state has lifted that requirement as legislators cut into school budgets.

Kenyon said the solution must come from many sources, including the PTAs, Measure E funds, program cuts, reserves, employee concessions, foundation contributions and possible extra money from the state.

Brown released his budget revision report Monday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline. Kenyon is scheduled to receive directions Friday on how to proceed based on Brown’s revisions. Monday’s school board meeting will address the latest budget update.

The unknown factors the district is waiting on – employee concessions and foundation money – should be resolved by the end of May, after the district knows how the state intends to fund education.

Continuing to cut

District officials delivered 56 pink slips, equivalent to 28.24 full-time positions, last week to classified employees. The layoff notices are part of the district’s plan to cut $4.5 million from its budget to close the $6.5 million gap.

The layoffs eliminate hours or positions for specialists in music, visual arts, physical education, technology, science, special education, libraries and more.

These positions may still be saved, but legal requirements made it necessary to deliver notice of any potential layoffs by last week.

Program priorities

The board continued to prioritize programs to reduce discussion time if and when the district receives funds to reinstate some of the programs lost in its $4.5 million reduction.

Guidance from the Budget Review Committee and the Administrative Council ranked 13 cuts on a scale.

The list ranks from most important to least important:

• K-6 class size

• Junior high class size (English, science)

• Junior high counselor

• Junior high Teacher-in-Charge

• Library program

• PE specialists (grades 1-6)

• Computer specialist/tech support

• Music/art program (grades 4-6)

• Advanced math

• Junior high class size (math, history)

• Maintenance/operations staff/subs

• Science support specialists

• District office staff

The board took no action. Priorities are scheduled for further discussion Monday.

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