Taking money from students, teachers and staff to make up for a $3.9 million shortfall in the Turlock Unified School District funding is hard enough, but now committee members are preparing for an even bigger cut potentially coming their way.
“I am not hopeful this is the worse it’s going to get,” said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent.
The potential additional cuts may come from a lack of expected federal funding that could leave the state budget short of more than $5 billion, said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger based the state budget off of his request for an additional $6.9 billion in federal funding. California is expecting a little over $1 billion in federal funding and the lack of money will affect the entire state budget.
“We don’t know how it will affect education yet,” Decker said. “We are looking at potentially more reductions.”
Despite the possibility of more cuts, the Budget Advisory Committee continued making tough decisions Monday and agreed on four additional recommendations to add to their list of budget cuts for the Board of Trustees to vote on. In total, they have six recommendations for cuts that tally up to $4.07 million.
“Any decisions we will make will be very difficult,” Da Marto said. “These will not be easy decisions for the Board to make.”
One of the first recommendations suggested Monday is a 1 percent reduction in employee salaries that will total $761,000.
All were in favor of this recommendation except for Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman.
“This cut is away from the classroom and it affects everyone across the board top to bottom, left to right, equal all the way around,” said Loren Holt, TUSD trustee.
District employees who sit on the committee were willing to take the cut if it will retain jobs.
“I am willing to take a pay cut if it means I won’t lose any of my people,” said Al Silveira, Medeiros Elementary School principal.
Another suggestion made by the budget committee is to reduce or eliminate mileage stipends, which could save the district a minimum of $30,000. If this suggestion is passed by the Board of Trustees, employees will receive mileage money through actual mileage reimbursements instead of giving each employee a set amount of mileage money. Each employee will be given the mileage money for the mileage they have used.
Two other suggestions are to reduce school site and district office allocations by 10 percent, which will decrease funds by about $130,000 and to take about $100,000 from categorical funds to use for salaries.
The 10 percent reductions would ostensibly be restored in the 2012/2013 school year by the state.
“The state gives school districts the flexibility to restore these things in 2012/2013,” Da Marto said. “But if the state doesn’t give districts the money, half of the districts in California will be bankrupt.”
The Budget Advisory Committee will meet again Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. in the Turlock High School library. All recommendations are added to a list that is then given to the TUSD board of trustees to approve or not approve the recommendations.
“If it’s not this year for it to not be fair, then it will be next year that it won’t be fair and last year wasn’t fair,” said Dana Trevethan, Turlock High principal.
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