School district adopts budget


Includes $2.5 million in cuts, as leaders brace for pain in November.

By Ashley Archibald / Special to The Malibu Times

The Board of Education adopted its 2012-13 budget Thursday last week amid concerns about looming financial uncertainty over the state’s ongoing financial crisis.

The budget included $2.5 million in cuts, most of which came out of a special meeting held in February in which board members agreed to increase staffing ratios and cut positions in special education, human resources, school offices and the fiscal services department.

Since the 2009-10 school year, SMMUSD officials have had to approve $33.5 million in cuts to the district, said Jan Maez, the district’s chief financial officer.

Even so, costs continue to rise around health benefits, contract salary increases, utilities and insurance, Maez said.

Despite those cuts and $27.8 million in outside revenues from parcel taxes, a sales tax, property lease revenues and contributions from the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu, the district will still run a $5.2 million operational deficit for the 2012-13 school year.

That could almost double to $10 million if tax measures on the November 2012 ballot meant to fund education fail.

Gov. Jerry Brown based the adopted state budget on the premise that one of the two measures would make it past California voters in November.

The first is the governor’s own proposal that would increase income taxes on the wealthiest Californians and increase the sales tax.

A second proposal is put forth by activist Molly Munger, and would raise taxes on most Californians, raising approximately $10 billion for education.

“It’s really important that everybody who’s involved in and supports education understands the severity and importance of what’s in front of us in November,” said Boardmember Ralph Mechur. “Something really has to pass, or we’re going to have to make some changes we desperately don’t want to see.”

The article originally appeared in the Santa Monica Daily Press.