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.”