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Hart district waits for budget OK from county

Posted: June 25, 2009 9:09 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Hart district's school board adopted a $178 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year Wednesday, but a $14 million deficit projected for the 2010-11 budget year could mean a rejection from the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

"It is probable that our budget will not be approved," said Sue Guthrie, chief operating officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

The budget, which was based on the governor's budget proposal, includes assumptions like class-size increases and furlough days that require negotiations with the Hart District Teachers Association, she said.

Those negotiations hit a standstill in June after the district declared an impasse.

When asked by board member Dennis King about what will happen if those assumptions don't come through, Guthrie replied, "We will have to come up with another way to save that money."

Along with the assumptions, the budget projects a deficit in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscal years of about $14 million to $15 million, Guthrie said.

Following the board's adoption, the budget goes to the Los Angeles County Office of Education for approval. If a rejection happens, the Hart district is able to submit a revised budget by September 8.

If that budget fails again, the county would form a three-person budget review committee to decide whether the budget should be approved and where revisions can be made, Guthrie said.

However, with so many school districts in Los Angeles County facing deep deficits, it is unknown whether the county education office will actually reject the Hart district's adopted budget.

"In past years, that's what would have happened," said Hart district spokeswoman Pat Willett. "We don't know if they're going to be handling it the same way."

The Hart district's budget had not been rejected by the county in the last eight years, Willett said.

The 2009-10 operating budget is $178 million, a drop from the $185.4 million 2008-09 operating budget, Guthrie said.

While the district's income has dropped by $13 million, the district received a boost of $6.8 million in one-time federal stimulus money designed to offset budget cuts.

State funding for each student has also taken a hit.

For the 2008-09 budget year, the district received $6,217 for each student, which is $426 less than previous years, Guthrie said.

That decrease follows into the 2009-10 fiscal year as the Hart district will receive $6,004 per student, she said.


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