The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), like other districts throughout the state, was holding its breath and hoping voters would approve the ballot measures on May 19 that would have helped improve the State’s budget situation. Unfortunately, that did not happen and now the District is going to have to make even deeper cuts in its budget for the 2009-2010 academic year.Another factor contributing to the cuts is the additional deterioration of the state’s economy since the state’s budget was rebalanced earlier this year. The state crisis is now so severe that the Governor is suggesting reducing Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding for the current fiscal year. This could mean the District will have to make cuts in the current fiscal year’s budget of about $3.8 million. The $3.8 million amount is derived from a reduction in state ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funding of $344 per District student and multiplying that number by the District’s total student number of 11,000. Cuts for the 2009-2010 academic year are predicted to be about $4.5 million and that number is being derived by reducing the ADA further to $406 per student and multiplying that by 11,000. District Chief Financial Officer, Janece Maez told the School Board members at the May 21 Board meeting that they must adopt a budget for 2009-2010 and have it to the County Board of Education by the end of June. However, that budget may have to be modified again in the fall based upon the budget the legislators adopt in Sacramento. School Board members have been discussing a variety of options to deal with the projected budget shortfalls due to the state’s financial crisis for the last four months. They discussed them once again on May 21 and will take action on them on June 4.The District is proposing a $300,000 cut in contracts for district office departments which would 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 would 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 cuts include a $550,000 reorganization at Santa Monica High School which would still maintain the school’s small learning communities, realign staffing resources with current enrollment, and continue to support low advisor/counselor student ratios. This will be accomplished by reducing the number of small learning communities from six to five. Also on the table are $1,906,788 in savings from changes including increasing class sizes in grades Kindergarten – Grade 3 and grades 6-12, changing staffing ratios, and $700,000 in Special Education budget realignments. Budget savings in Special Education could result from a reduction in legal costs and/or by providing more in-house services. Lastly, $1 million in reductions will be made in a variety of Tier III categorical programs. There will be another joint workshop with the Board and the District’s Financial Oversight Committee on the budget on June 10, at the School District Headquarters which are located at 1651 16th Street.
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