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Hart district prepares budget

Lack of final state budget means that districts won't know if they'll have to cut back further

Posted: June 22, 2009 10:09 p.m.
Updated: June 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year that reflects cuts of $13.4 million over last year's budget will be on the agenda for members of the William S. Hart Union High School District on Wednesday.

Much like other local school districts, Hart district officials have shifted funding from designated programs and projects into the general fund to help minimize the impact of the budget reduction, said Sue Guthrie, chief financial officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Other measures are also being considered.

"We're reducing the school's discretionary funds by 10 percent for next year," she said.

Additionally, the district has not filled some positions as a way to save money in salaries, she said.

District officials have also suggested eliminating five counseling positions for next year, she said.

The budget already includes $6 million in federal stabilization funding provided to the Hart district for the following fiscal year by the federal stimulus, she said.

The district is considering other options, which involve negotiations between the associations representing classified and certificated staff.

Those options involve increasing class sizes by two students. That would put either 38 or 39 students in junior high and high school classrooms, she said.

Other items on the bargaining table involve implementing a benefit cap of $13,500 for full-time employees and reducing the work year by three days, she said.

The negotiations and reductions come as the Hart district already has taken a $7.4 million hit in its current fiscal year budget, Guthrie said.

While the district would be able to maintain a positive balance for the 2009-10 fiscal year, projections put the district at a $14 to $15 million deficit in 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscal years.

Keeping the district out of the red in the fiscal years after 2009-10 could mean issuing layoffs, pay reductions and a reduction in the number of school days, she said.

"It's going to be really difficult to make cuts of that magnitude when we've already cut so much," Guthrie said.

Guthrie said board members are opposed to reducing the school year by five days.

"I'm not sure how we can avoid that with cuts of this magnitude," Guthrie said.

Without a state budget, school district officials are basing their budgets on the 2009-10 May revision issued by Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger.

School districts are required to adopt their budgets for the 2009-10 fiscal year by June 30.

The budget's numbers could be changed because until the state finalizes is own budget, it's impossible for districts to know how much money they'll receive from the state's coffers.

"The way things have been bouncing around since last October, it's just so hard to say," Guthrie said.


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