Additional $10-billion in state budget cuts to hit schools and others hard

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Problems exist with suggestions to increase revenues for school

district.

By Carolanne Sudderth/Ocean Park Gazette

Christmas is on its way, but the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is seeing more Scrooge than Santa. Facing the recent dire state education budget cuts, per SMMUSD Superintendent John Deasy, the news is sobering to say the least.

“We have expenses built on revenues that don’t exist anymore,” he said.

The school board faces a total shortfall of $11 million, or roughly, 15 percent of the district’s annual operating budget.

Gov. Gray Davis is willing to waive the mandate that California school districts must keep an amount equivalent to 3 percent of total budgeted expenses on hand in case of emergencies. Deasy said, that of 40 districts surveyed, 60 percent said this would not be enough.

In addition to the usually vulnerable arts/music and after school programs, Deasy is proposing a 10-day furlough during which schools would be shut down. This measure is contingent upon the state’s continuing to pay for those days as though children were present. He also said that balancing the budget might require layoffs of 60 teachers, 60 classified staff, and 11 to 12 administrative personnel.

Other possible means of increasing revenue that have been suggested may have bugs:

* Re-negotiating leases of school-owned property. As leases cover specific periods, the lessees would have to agree to have their rents raised.

* Additional monies from the cities. Per Deasy, the Beverly Hills schools receive $6 million from the city government. Santa Monica contributes $3.5 million to the SMMUSD, although the district contains a greater of number of students and the per capita income of their parents is greater.

* Increasing number of permit students would result in a “pyramid-type” scheme as Average Daily Attendance paid by state no longer fully covers cost-a surfeit the first year that would have to be made up in years following.