Thursday, February 7, 2008

OUSD Board Stunned By $2M Cuts

Governor’s budget plans leave local schools in quandary

By Sondra Murphy
Ojai Unified School District may be the county’s poster child for declining enrollment issues, but its expertise does not make dealing with additional state budget deficits painless. Assistant superintendent of business and administrative services Danielle Pusatere presented a draft at Tuesday’s school board meeting which outlined the district’s projected $2 million in budget reductions.
A combined loss in revenue, unrestricted and categorical funds of over $900,000 paired with expected increases in expenditures which include salaries, health benefits and utilities that total nearly $700,000 brings the low estimate to $1.6 million in necessary reductions by OUSD for the 2008-2009 school year.
Pusatere pointed out the sum is based on the current proposal from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because of district timelines in planning budgets and giving notice to certificated staff whose jobs are in jeopardy by mid-March, OUSD has to act on projections that may change in the months to come.
But Pusatere also warned of other funding sources that may be reduced, as well, kicking the total over that $2 million mark.
“If (Medical Administrative Activities) funding goes away, that’s another half a million dollars,” she said, fully expecting the elimination of that source.
MAA is federal funding that reimburses school employees for the cost of administrative activities that promote access to health care for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in public schools and coordinates other student health care needs with Medi-Cal service providers.
The board met the dismal projections with long faces. Board President Steve Field suggested asking the Ventura County superintendent of schools to organize a discussion with local representatives about ways to change or cope with the 10 percent, across-the-board gouge to state education. “We did that before and they didn’t come,” said member Pauline Mercado. “I think a budget workshop for us would be most helpful.”
The district will need to give teacher notices by March 15 before the final OUSD budget is formed and well before the California budget is enacted. The first OUSD budget draft will be presented to the board in April, with another given before a third and final budget is approved around June.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It would be cheaper in the long run to send the kids to private schools.