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Publication Date: Friday, January 17, 2003

State budget spells c-u-t-s State budget spells c-u-t-s (January 17, 2003)

PUSD board wrestles with chopped funds

by Teresa C. Brown

A state budget proposal struggling with an anticipated $34 billion deficit has the Pleasanton Unified School District board in a quandary about balancing its own books and possibly laying off employees to do it.

At its meeting Tuesday, Sandra Lemmons, Assistant Superintendent, Business Services, reported the gloomy forecast.

"It's basically been confirmed that the numbers we've been talking about up to this point, $1.9 million for this current budget year, is about what we can expect to have to deal with," said Lemmons, who had spent the day in Sacramento. She added that this revenue shortfall number was for general operating money.

After hearing her report, Superintendent John Casey said, "We don't see how we can balance the budget with the picture we have now without affecting people. We have to make some early decisions in regards to how to balance that 2003-04 budget so that we can notify people in a timely manner of possible layoffs."

Nearly all program funding will be pared down, with categorical programs, those with a specific purpose such as text books, hit the hardest with a total cut of more than 12 percent, according to Lemmons' report.

A mid-year "across-the-board" reduction of 3.66 percent in all Proposition 98 programs is expected, she said. This reduction translates into a 2.15 percent reduction in revenue limits, which is approximately $100 per student or $1.3 million.

Plus there will be an additional 7.46 percent mid-year reduction on all Proposition 98 categorical items, she said. Categorical programs not falling under Proposition 98 will take another hit from the 2003-04 budget as it is slashed 1.28 percent.

The only categorical programs not affected will be special education, preschool, nutrition, summer school, and, in the 2003-04 budget, K-3 class size reduction.

Gov. Davis' proposed budget also eliminates a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for revenue limit, special education or other categorical programs. And, Lemmons said, it is the governor's intent to not recognize COLA regardless of the state's budget. In the past, she said, COLA was restored once the state budget recovered.

Lemmons reported the governor proposes to combine 64 categorical programs into a single block grant. The grant would be used for professional development, instructional materials and technology, specialized and targeted instructional programs, school safety and student services.

Looking to reconcile the PUSD budget, a budget workshop will be held from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the district office. The workshop is open to the public.

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