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Schools adopt budgets, await state

While local officials have readied for the upcoming fiscal year, they look to results from Capitol,

Posted: June 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.

One by one, local school districts have been adopting budgets for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins in a matter of weeks.

And even though budgets are balanced now, all eyes remain on the November ballot, which can become a game-changer for education funding.

“This is really an estimate of an estimate because of the lack of information from Sacramento and Gov. Jerry Brown,” board member Bob Jensen told fellow board members during this week’s William S. Hart Union High School District budget vote.

School districts are required to adopt balanced budgets by July 1 in time for the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year. Locally, Hart, Saugus Union and Newhall school districts have passed 2012-13 budgets in recent weeks.

Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers reached an agreement Thursday on the state budget. Education funding remains stable for the upcoming fiscal year — unless the November ballot tax initiatives fail. That would likely trigger deep mid-year cuts to education.

While local educators say they’ll be able get through 2012-13 with help from reserve money, the year after will prove to be a challenge without a boost in state funding.

“We are balanced for the next year,” Saugus Union Superintendent Joan Lucid said.

The latest budget wrangling comes after years of state cuts to public education.

“We’re in the same situation we’ve been in for the past five years,” board member Steve Sturgeon said during the Hart district’s Wednesday meeting.

Saugus Union, for instance, should be receiving $6,400 per student from the state. Instead, the school district receives $4,974 a student, said Cynthia Shieh, assistant superintendent of business.

If the November tax initiatives fail, then Saugus Union would receive $4,533 per student from the state.

The $455-per-student funding cut would result in an estimated $4.5 million mid-year cut for Saugus Union alone, Shieh said.

For the 2012-13 fiscal year, Saugus Union will take in a projected $69,494,817 in revenue, but its expenses will hit $72,854,100, according to district projections.

“The fundamental problem is that the revenues coming in cannot support our day-to-day operations,” Shieh said.

It’s a similar situation for the Hart district, which anticipates a $9.7-million-per-year reduction should the tax extensions fail, Chief Operations Officer Sue Hoerber said.

“Until the economy improves, I don’t think there’s going to be any level of certainty,” Hoerber said.


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