The state’s declining economy has been causing havoc for school districts throughout California. Thus far, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) has remained in better shape than most of the other school districts in the state. However, District officials are still very concerned about the impact the state’s weakening economy is going to have on the District’s budget for the next academic year and beyond.Janece Maez the District’s Chief Financial Officer gave a presentation on issues that will be impacting the District’s 2009-2010 budget and future budgets at a joint meeting of the School Board and the District’s Financial Oversight Committee on May 5. She emphasized the precarious nature of the state’s budget by pointing out that shortly after the state’s mid-year budget was approved the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) declared the state’s budget to be $8 billion out of balance. In addition to that state revenues continue to fall below expectations, unemployment continues to rise, construction is down, and home prices continue to fall.Maez also noted that the state’s mid-year budget was predicated on having all of the May 19th ballot measures being approved. If the ballot measures are not approved, the state could be facing as much as a $20 billion shortfall which would mean the state would have to make additional drastic cuts. For SMMUSD this could mean $6 million in additional cuts. She also mentioned that federal stimulus dollars are one time only, may be needed to offset future state reductions or to postpone or delay deeper reductions to the District budget.In order to meet these budget challenges, the District is proposing a number of reductions, for the 2009-2010 budget years. They are proposing a $300,000 cut in contracts for district office departments which could come from cutting legal costs, technology consultants, communications consultants or other contracts. Another $250,000 could be saved by a reduction in District Office Administration. This could include the elimination of the vacant coordinator position in Special Education, reduction of one math coordinator position, reallocation of the District Elementary Librarian, or a reduction of clerical support.Other proposals include a $550,000 reorganization of Santa Monica High School which would maintain the school’s small learning communities, realign staffing resources with current enrollment, and continue to support low advisor/counselor student ratios. Also on the table are $1,906,788 changes that would occur by increasing class sizes and changing staffing ratios, and $700,000 is Special Education budget realignments. Budget savings in Special Education could result from a reduction in legal costs or providing more in-house services. Lastly, $1 million in reductions may need to be made in a variety of Tier III categorical programs.
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