District fears deep cuts if governor's budget plan goes into effect.
If the budget cuts presented by Governor Schwarzenegger earlier this week are implemented, the William S. Hart Union High School District would receive $10.3 million less next year than projected, according to Sue Guthrie, the district’s chief financial officer. The projections were presented to the Governing Board recently in a required First Interim Report, which anticipated the district’s financial status for the current year and the next two years.
If the proposal stands, the Hart District’s projections for the 2008/09 school year would end with a $3 million deficit and no reserve, instead of the three and one-half percent reserve the district had projected before last week’s proposed cuts.
The district also has tentative agreements with its employee unions for salary increases of two percent, which may be in jeopardy if the Governor’s proposal stands. The district would need to make cuts of some $9 million next year to cover the proposed salary increases and maintain the legally required three percent reserve level.
The district is hoping that the legislature will counter the Governor’s proposals with other solutions that will have less of an impact on education. However, Guthrie has suggested that the district establish a committee of district and site personnel to determine where cuts can be made with the least impact to educational programs.
The Governor’s budget proposal for 2008/09 would suspend the Proposition 98 guaranteed funding for education in the budget year, allowing the budget for schools serving kindergarten through 12th grade to be reduced by 9.2 percent next year. The proposed budget offers a 4.3 percent cost of living increase, and then applies a 6.99 percent deficit factor that would result in a net decrease in funding for schools next year.
This year’s funding would not be affected except in the area of categorical funding, which provides funds for specific programs. The proposal would use unexpended categorical funds to cover any shortfalls in educational spending this year.
Terry Deloria, the Hart District’s director of special programs, has already frozen the district’s categorical spending until the impact of budget cuts can be determined. Categorical funds cover such programs as staff development, academic intervention programs, English language development and more.
California already spends less per pupil than other states in the nation, and the Hart District receives less money per student than most high school districts in the state. Since voters approved Proposition 13 in the 1970s, schools have relied on state funding to operate their educational programs. Local voter approved bonds such as Measure V can only be used for construction of new facilities and modernization, and are not available for day-to-day operation of schools.