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TUSD braces for painful budget cuts

POSTED January 12, 2010 9:11 p.m.
If Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget is passed as is, the Turlock Unified School District will be out millions of dollars for the 2010-2011 school year. About $3.9 million to be exact will be cut from school funds, according to the governor’s proposed budget released on Friday.   
“From the governor’s speech it sounded so hopeful, but the reality is different,” said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer.
The first cut from the governor’s proposed budget is in the Cost of Living Adjustments, which is based on many different inflation components such as employee compensation, services, structures and nondurable goods. The COLA is based on the annual growth rates of these components and has decreased by 0.38 percent, therefore cutting more money from district funds.
The second cut is in the cost per student, Decker said. Last year, the state was only supposed to take a one-time $252.83 cut per student. But the governor is proposing taking another cut of $200 per student.   
Overall, the state is only expected to make those two cuts that total up to $3 million, Decker said. However, there has been a 0.5 percent decrease in attendance, which has resulted in district funding being cut by $825,000.
This adds up to a $3.9 million loss in district general funds, Decker said. The lack of funding is expected to come into effect in July.  
Due to the lack of $3.9 million in funding for the upcoming school year, budget cuts will have to be made, she said.
“I don’t know where those cuts will be made yet,” Decker said. “We will look at everything in terms of where we need to cut.”
Decker is hoping not to cut into the reserves.
“We don’t expect this to be the last bad year so we don’t want to dip into the reserves too much,” Decker said.
The cuts will be discussed by the TUSD Budget Advisory Committee, bargaining units and presented at the TUSD Board of Trustee meetings for approval, she said.
On Jan. 25, the Budget Advisory Committee will start discussing possible budget cuts to offset the lack of funding from the state. In February, new budgets and budget cuts will start to be presented to the Board of Trustees for recommendation, suggestions and approvals.
A 2010-2011 tentative budget is expected to be completed in March, along with potential personnel layoff notices that could be presented March 15.
This budget is not final and can change up until both houses of the state legislature pass the budget, Decker said. The state is supposed to pass a final budget in July, but typically it is passed anytime between July and September.
“This is the governor’s proposed state budget and it could change,” she said. “But I don’t expect it to get better because the state’s finances are not getting better.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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