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Time right to spend on school projects, says TUSD staff
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The Turlock Unified School District is moving forward with a list of potential one-time expenditures for the 2013-14 school year, despite uncertainty from a few of its board members.

The move to carry on with one-time expenditures made sense to district officials after the passage of Proposition 30 and an increase in TUSD’s enrollment for the 2012-13 school year, said district staff.

“Based on the passage of Prop. 30 and other events happening in California, we believe it’s time for members to (discuss these) one-time expenditures,” said Superintendent Sonny DaMarto.  “There are many schools throughout our district that are in serious need of these expenditures.  We are finally in the economic standpoint to tackle down these issues.”

Trustees approved a  district reserve level of 10 percent, equivalent to $11.6 million for the 2013-14 school year, allowing for spending up to $5.6 million in one-time available funds.

“Based on the size of the district and recommendation of school services, a 10 percent reserve gives us the cushion we need without having to borrow money,” said DaMarto.  “We want to protect the district, and until things get on level footing, it is a healthy reserve to have.”

Potential one-time expenditures include an irrigation project at Cunningham School, a farm at Turlock High and a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program at Turlock Junior High School over a two-year span.

Some TUSD trustee were cautious of the potential financial consequences of spending one-time use funds at this time.

“An ag farm will be an ongoing cost for our district,” said Trustee Grady Welch.  “The district will have to hire a staff to be able to maintain the farm.  I don’t think it’s a good idea .”

Trustee Tami Muniz said it would be a disservice to the students to have the STEM program available at only one middle school.

“The STEM program should be available at both middle schools,” said Muniz.  “It is a program that all of our students should have the opportunity to be a part of.”

In the coming weeks TUSD officials will individually review each potential expenditure and decide whether to proceed.