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TUSD trustees approve budget, await further state cuts

POSTED June 9, 2009 11:14 p.m.
After months of slashing expenses, negotiating new contracts, and cutting services and programs, the Turlock Unified School District finally has a budget for the 2009-10 school year ... at least for a few weeks.
With a revised state budget expected sometime by the end of June or the beginning of July, school districts across California are bracing themselves for large-scale budget reductions. The latest budget estimate has the state deficit at $24.3 billion.
Since the failure of the propositions in the May special election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced a plan to reduce education spending by an additional $5.3 billion over the next 13 months. The state already cut educational spending by $12 billion in the budget released in February.
“The legislature and the governor must consider new revenues and repealing tax loopholes as part of a responsible budget compromise, otherwise they will set in motion a downward spiral in the quality of the educational experience our children receive over the next several years,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said. “Relying solely on these heavy-handed cuts will do a grave disservice to our children’s and California’s future to such an extent that not even they can fully realize yet. Education is very much a part of California’s long-term economic recovery from this recession, but if we’re not willing to invest in it then our state’s future will continue to remain shrouded in instability and uncertainty.”
The new rounds of funding eliminations could conceivably translate into a $3 million reduction for TUSD for the 2008-09 school year, which will end on June 30, and anywhere between $4.2 million and $5.2 million for the upcoming school year, according to Lori Decker, the District’s chief financial officer.
“It could be devastating,” Decker said.
If the District is hit with a $3 million loss at the end of the current school year, it would likely be offset by the federal stimulus dollars coming to the District, Decker said. However, the next reduction would have to come out of the reserve funds, which Decker said would just about “wipe it out.”
The current budget the Board of Trustees adopted was approved six to zero at Tuesday night’s meeting. Trustee Felicia Renshaw was not present. The total general fund is budgeted at $110.4 million and includes several cost-cutting measures the District has enacted like an across the board payroll reduction, closing Crane School, and restructuring the summer school program.
“This is a good budget and a whole lot of work went into it, but it is not the budget we will be working with next year,” Decker said.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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