Tustin Unified School District: $12.5 Million To Be Eliminated From $160 Million Budget; “Categorical Money” From Federal Stimulus Funds Are Very Restrictive Says Superintendent

Some school leaders said that restrictions on how stimulus dollars can be used are boxing them in.

“Getting more categorical money—that’s nice for the few of our schools that are Title I schools, but not all of our schools are Title I schools,” said Richard Bray, the superintendent of the 21,000-student Tustin Unified School District in southern California.

The district plans to cut about $12.5 million in the next fiscal year from a budget of $160 million. Teachers will be laid off, and programs such as elementary school music will be eliminated, Mr. Bray said, noting that the city plans to start providing a music program.

There are dollars available that can be used for general education purposes, Mr. Bray said, but superintendents will have to lobby for them in competition with colleges and universities.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/04/08/28districts.h28.html

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California State Ballot Measures Needed To Help Solve Budget Crisis And Fund Schools Are Falling Short Of 50% Support In May Special Election

Five state ballot measures aimed at solving California’s budget crisis are falling short of the support needed to pass in the May special election, a sign that voters may force lawmakers into another fierce clash over tax hikes and spending cuts, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The state’s dismal economy has already partly unraveled the budget deal that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature reached last month, with a drop in tax collections leaving a new $8-billion shortfall. Rejection of the ballot measures would widen the gap to nearly $14 billion.

The least popular measure, Proposition 1C, is also the one that state leaders are counting on most for immediate fiscal relief: It would let the state borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenues. The cost, to be paid over decades, would be billions in new interest obligations, and less lottery money to meet future spending needs.

The poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that Proposition 1C would lose in a rout if the May 19 election were held today, with 37% of likely voters in favor and 50% opposed.

Faring slightly better, but still decisively rejected, would be Proposition 1A. It would cap state spending while extending billions in temporary tax hikes for an extra two years. The survey found 39% of likely voters for the measure and 46% against it.

So far, Proposition 1A is the measure that has drawn the most attention. Conservatives on talk radio, enraged by the extension of the tax hikes, have made its defeat a top priority. Some labor unions are weighing whether to campaign against the spending cap.

The dynamics of the special election are volatile, and public opinion could swing dramatically once campaign advertising begins. The poll found more than 10% of likely voters are undecided on most of the ballot measures. Also, voter turnout is likely to be low, and it is unclear what mix of Californians will wind up casting ballots in the oddly timed election.

Passage of each ballot measure requires at least one vote above 50%. Three measures were winning a plurality of support in the poll, but still falling short of the 50% threshold. The poll has a margin of sampling error of three percentage points among likely voters.

The poll found likely voters lukewarm on twin measures to loosen restrictions on money that Californians have dedicated solely to children’s health and mental health programs under previous initiatives.

Both measures, Propositions 1D and 1E, fall a few points short of 50%, but more voters backed them than opposed them.

Voter sentiment was split on Proposition 1B, which puts money into schools in future years to make up for cuts this year, with 44% in favor and 41% opposed. Lawmakers made it part of the ballot package in part to dissuade the state’s potent teachers unions from joining the opposition campaign.

All in all, “the supporters of the propositions have their work cut out for them,” said pollster Mark Baldassare, president of the policy institute.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-poll26-2009mar26,0,3460616.story

Orange County School Districts Might Not Receive Much Needed Federal Stimulus Funds As State Of California Would Use Monies To Offset Budget Deficit

California’s independent Legislative Analyst’s Office last week recommended about $3.6 billion more in cuts to public education in the 2009-10 school year, with the intent that federal stimulus money would replace those depleted funds.

“If the state uses the stimulus money to backfill its own coffers, we’re not sure if we will see any of those dollars,” said Renee Hendrick, the Orange County Department of Education’s executive director for business services. “It’s awful. I’m just not sure how districts are going to do it.”

The California Department of Education is anticipated to receive $6 billion in stimulus money through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a pot of money that was presumed to trickle down to school districts and be used to offset their general-fund budget deficits. Education officials also are expecting to receive an additional $2.6 billion earmarked for specific programs.

If the state shaves off $3.6 billion from the stabilization fund, however, school districts will get less than half of the money they were hoping for.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/education-money-school-2340607-federal-districts

State Of California Budget Crisis Is Shrinking Payments To California Schools By Estimated $3 Billion Creating Serious Shortfalls For School Districts

As state legislators and the governor battle each other over how to create a budget for a struggling California, School District officials are left to struggle, too, facing a second year of deep, midyear budget cuts.

“The cuts to schools and state services proposed in the governor’s budget only serve to make an awful situation worse,” he said. “His call to defer nearly $3 billion in payments due to schools early this year would create a cash-flow crisis for our schools. I am also adamantly opposed to his proposal to reduce the school year by five days

 

http://www.tbrnews.com/articles/2009/01/15/redondo_beach_news/news11.txt

The Redondo Beach Unified School District, which last year lost nearly $2 million in revenue from the state, this year is looking at approximately $2.4 million in cuts.

According to Chief Business Official Janet Redella, this is an almost word-for-word repeat of what happened this time last year: Apportionment checks are late, categorical funds are in jeopardy and, worse still said Redella, is that these are still 2008’s issues.

“This has been a problem since the governor’s proposal last January,” she said. “The fact that we’re in 2009 and (we’re) still talking about 2008 is alarming.”

The budget at issue – the 2008-09 budget – covers the fiscal year ending in June. Redella explained that the 2009-10 budget hasn’t even been addressed yet, and the inability of the legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to agree on a budget impacts the School District daily, she said.

“I’m estimating $2.4 million in midyear reductions. What reductions can I make halfway through the year?” she asked. “If the Legislature continues to not come to a conclusion on this, we’ll still not have concrete information to make our decision on. The indecisiveness is backing us into a corner. The longer it takes, the fewer options we have available to us.”

This week, in an attempt to remedy California’s nearly $40 billion deficit, Schwarzenegger proposed tweaking Proposition 98’s guaranteed minimum funding to schools, which could create a $7 billion loss in future funding to the state’s public schools. This is in addition to earlier cost-saving suggestions such as shortening the school year by up to five days to save approximately $1 billion.

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell released a statement Jan. 9 that called the proposed $6 billion in statewide education cuts “crippling.”