The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is considering making at least $2.5 million in budget cuts for the 2008-2009 academic year.
According to Assistant Superintendent Michael Matthews, these cuts are not being considered “because the Governor has recommended budget cuts” due to California’s $14 billion budget deficit. “We’re cutting because we have declining enrollment” in our District. Matthews also added that he wanted to acknowledge the $2.5 million in proposed cuts “doesn’t fully meet the deficit that we’ll be having, but it acknowledges the healthy reserve [the District has].” Next year’s budget may face “more reductions.”
The District staff report states: “The reductions are based upon all secondary schools being staffed at a student-to-teacher ratio of 31:1, except for John Adams Middle School (JAMS), which will be staffed at 30:1.” JAMS is currently staffed at a 29:1 ratio.
In terms of the District’s elementary schools, grades K-3 will continue to have a 20:1 ratio for 2008-2009. Grades 4-5 will be funded at 30:1 except for the Will Rogers Learning Community (WRLC) and Edison Language Academy, which will be staffed at a 25:1 ratio. Currently, grades 4-5 at WRLC have a 20:1 ratio.
Reductions are also being considered in the number of site administrators, in the number of central office administrators, and for office staff at both the central administrative office and the school sites.
Board member Jose Escarce noted that the enrollment projections were based on losing 400 students per year, but “since there has been declining enrollment in the District we have never lost 400 students.” He also mentioned that there could be as many as 50 to 100 more students attending District schools next year without permits and that the District is currently “seeking  permit students very aggressively.” He therefore cautioned District staff that in his view the $2.5 million in cuts should be increased to $3 million so there would be “a cushion to hire more teachers if the District gets the permit students we are seeking and if there are extra non-permit students enrolled in the District next year that have not been projected.” The other Board members all expressed their support for increasing the proposed cuts to $3 million.
The Board will vote on these reductions on April 3, but the Board won’t adopt the final budget until June.