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Hart district unsure of funding

Officials anticipate surplus for current fiscal year but expect deficit for 2011-12

Posted: September 5, 2009 7:33 p.m.
Updated: September 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The Hart district is bracing for an expected $13.3 million deficit for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, counting on state funding cuts and higher costs, district officials said Friday.

While the district might be in trouble in 2011-12, it seems for now it has more than enough money to get by.

For the current fiscal year, the district anticipates being $8.3 million above the required reserve, said Sue Guthrie, chief financial officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

"We would only need to make cuts if the mid-year cuts hit by that $8.3 million," she said.

Any cuts for the current fiscal year would be determined by the state, Guthrie said.

If funding is reduced for the current 2009-10 fiscal year, then the Hart district will have to make cuts, she said.

In the 2010-11 fiscal year, the district anticipates being $682,000 above the required reserve.

The announcement comes a day after the district and its teachers union reached a tentative agreement that would save money by increasing class sizes at its junior high and high schools.

Before the negotiations between the district and the Hart District Teachers Association were resolved Thursday, the district was preparing for a $2.2 million shortfall for the 2010-11 followed by a $14.3 million shortfall for 2011-12.

Still, the district needs to make any cuts as early as possible to prevent deficits from gathering in future fiscal years.

"We need to start making cuts in 2010-11 so we don't have to make them so deeply in 2011-12," Guthrie said.

Expenditures for 2008-09 were $4.1 million, or 2.2 percent, less than projected, leading to lowered expenditures for the next three fiscal years.

"When we budget, we're budgeting conservatively because we're not really sure what's going to happen," Guthrie said.

Expenditures for the 2009-10 year hit $176.4 million, which is much higher than the $161.7 million in income to the Hart district, she said.

Income has been decreasing over the years as income for the 2008-09 year was $187.9 million, she said.

"Income levels have dropped so drastically because of the state's deficit," Guthrie said.

With a revised budget ready, Guthrie hopes the Los Angeles County Office of Education will approve the Hart budget.

"They have indicated that they will provide us with a conditional budget approval," Guthrie said. "Then we just need to work on a plan for solving the problem for 2011-12."

The district has begun working on that plan and will meet with school leaders to discuss how to make cuts.

"That will be an ongoing process all throughout this current year," Guthrie said.

Until more discussions with district officials, Guthrie declined to say what is being considered for cuts.

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