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 Superintendents, CBOs Hear Grim News About Budget Shortfall, Importance of Potential June Election

​More than 40 school district superintendents and chief business officers heard grim news about the state’s budget shortfall and its impact on local school funding, in a February 10 meeting and teleconference at the County Office of Education.

“They’re worried,” said County Superintendent of Schools Randy Ward, who convened the afternoon session. “It’s like someone who’s worried that they’re going to lose their home, they’re worried sick about their families. These people are worried about their students and staffs.”

The proposed budget of Governor Jerry Brown contained an 18-month shortfall of $25.4 billion. A total of $8.2 billion of that shortfall is for the current 2010-11 fiscal year, with a $17.2 billion shortfall forecast for 2011-12.

Brown proposes to address the shortfall through $12.5 billion in program cuts, $12 billion in funds generated by extending temporary taxes, borrowing $1.9 billion from special funds, and other one-time measures.

A two-thirds vote from both the state senate and assembly is required to put the tax extension measure before voters. A simple majority from voters is required to approve the tax extension.

If the tax extension does not pass, County Office of Education Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Lora Duzyk told the administrators that the per-pupil cost to school districts would be $330. She advised them to build their respective school district budgets on the basis of the tax extension not passing.

The County Office of Education has statutory authority to insure that school district budgets are solvent. Duzyk and Ward were asked by Santee School District Superintendent Pat Shaw if budgeting for a $330 per-pupil reduction was a recommendation or a requirement, and Ward said it is a requirement.

“You can blame the County Office of Education,” Ward said, anticipating how unpopular such an approach will be for school district superintendents and school boards.

Duzyk said, “These people are concerned. They don’t want to lay-off staff. But they’re responsible for protecting the fiscal integrity of their school districts. If the election fails and they haven’t planned for the expiration of those taxes, there could be serious consequences.”