Patterson schools to run on $40 million budget
by Maddy Houk
Jun 21, 2012 | 766 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local school district officials are braced for $2.4 million in budget cuts as trustees approved a $40.5 million budget for the next school year Monday, June 18.

Steve Menge, assistant superintendent of administrative services, told the board the May revision of Gov. Jerry Brown’s California budget showed that a $9.2 billion gap had grown to nearly $16 billion. He also noted that the district was living on the same amount of money it ran on in the 2007-08 school year.

“It’s hard to believe we’re trying to do this today with the same money we had five years ago,” Menge said of the 2012-13 fiscal year that begins July 1. “This has probably been one of the toughest budgets to work on, because we’ve already cut to the bare necessities.”

School district budgets throughout the state are awaiting a state tax initiative’s appearance on the November ballot that would help close the state gap by increasing the state sales tax rate by a quarter cent for four years and hiking the income tax paid by people who make more than $250,000 a year.

The Legislature first must vote to place the initiative on the ballot, and it then must be approved by a majority of voters.

The Patterson district’s income and expenses would remain at the present level — or be “flat funded” — if the initiative passed.

If it failed to pass, the local district would have to dig into its reserves, Menge explained, as it could lose $455 per student in average daily attendance money from the state. The district now counts on $5,200 per year for each of its 5,600 students.

Average daily attendance money is the amount the state gives to a school district for each day a student attends school.

The school board voted in March to approve $2 million in cuts for the 2012-13 school year.

Cuts include seven employee furlough days and a 10 percent decrease in spending across the board for all school sites and the district office, as well as cutting travel and conference expenses in half.

Also that month, trustees voted to issue 12 preliminary pink slips to employees. But in early May, then-interim Superintendent Phil Alfano rescinded those slips when officials found there was enough money in federal categorical funds to pay those employees.

The general fund cuts would still leave a $635,000 shortfall for the district if the initiative failed to meet voter approval, something that concerns Trustee Bruce Kelly.

“There’s a big cliff in November, and if we don’t get a bridge built, we’re going to fall off of it,” Kelly said.

Menge said the district could receive hardship money for its building and modernization projects.

That money could also allow the district to borrow from itself to make payroll if state payments did not arrive on time.

The district will find out June 27 when those funds will be available.

Public schools throughout the state can submit applications to the Office of Public School construction for funds from its Modernization Program.

Funds are given on a shared basis, with 60 percent from the state and 40 percent from the district itself for eligible improvements under the program.

Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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