The Turlock Unified School District budget is still unbalanced and at risk for further cuts from the state with no state budget adopted yet and only two out of the three unions having obtained an agreement with the district.
“It (state budget) could be better, it could be worse,” said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer who is expecting the state budget to be approved soon.
The district was forced to cut $4 million in their reserve funds — savings account — this year, not including the additional cuts they made totaling $3.6 million from salary reductions and cutbacks at the school sites.
So far the district’s budget is out of balance by $220,000 due to an agreement not reached with the California School Employees Association, who is being asked to take a two percent salary reduction.
CSEA could not be reached for comment by press time.
The Turlock Teachers Association and the Turlock Classified – American Federation of Teachers have come to an agreement with the district to take an on-going two percent salary reduction for the 2010/2011 school year. The two unions are saving the district $1.32 million this year.
Last year, all three unions took an on-going three percent salary reduction making their total on-going cuts at five percent.
“Everybody reduced their payroll by the same amount,” Decker said. “But how they took the cut could be different.”
For example, last year teachers took their cut through increased class sizes which increased their work but not all employees who took a cut teach, so they took their cut in other ways.
TUSD is expecting $3 million in cuts for the next two years just from their general funds, she said. On top of that, they are expecting $4 million in cuts for the next two years in their reserve funds, which totals an expected $7 million in cuts for the next two years.
At the end of the 2008/2009 school year, the district had a solid 14.7 percent in their reserve funding, which has been their highest for at least the past five years. At the end of this school year, their reserves will have dropped down to 9.4 percent.
By the end of the 2012/2013 school year, the district’s reserves will be down to 3.85 percent just 0.85 percent above the state’s minimum reserve requirement, Decker said.
A healthy reserve for school districts in good times is about 10 percent, she said. The TUSD Board of Trustees likes to keep the reserves at five percent but as time goes on and more cuts are made, the district will be under the five percent reserves after the 2011/2012 school year.
The only hope that TUSD has is the appropriation of more federal funding through the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama on Aug. 10. The act is supposed to give about $1.2 billion to California to save or create an estimated 16,500 K-12 jobs.
Decker is unsure if TUSD will even get the money and if so, how much money will be distributed to the district, she said. The money would be a one-time only funding.
“It is my sincere hope that we do receive this funding,” Decker said. “Whatever the amount, it would be very beneficial to be able to offset some of the painful cuts we need to make, even for one year.”
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