With the Pleasanton school district facing a possible $8.7 million shortfall, administrators and staff finance managers will join other California school districts today at a special Governor's Budget Workshop in Sacramento to learn more details of proposed cuts in state funding for education.
The proposed cuts have already caused school Supt. John Casey to warn that the Pleasanton district could be forced to cut as much as $8.7 million from this year's and its 2009-2010 budgets.
Details of the possible cuts have now been made public and are posted below.
Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, will lead the Pleasanton delegation at the Sacramento workshop, and then report on the discussions at the school board meeting here at tomorrow night's board meeting.
The meeting, the first of several in the next two months that will focus on budget reductions, will start at 7 p.m. in the school board meeting room, 4665 Bernal Ave.
Ron Bennett, president and chief executive officer of School Services of California, an advocacy resource for education agencies in California that is hosting today's meeting in Sacremento, said the workshop will focus on the dire predictions of Schwarzenegger's major initiatives to resolve the state budget deficit with deep cuts in state funding for schools.
"Although the worst of last year's draconian education proposals have thus far been avoided, the governor's proposal for 2009-10 is expected to include the major cuts to education announced on Dec. 31." Bennett said in a statement to school districts. "We also expect the details to reflect the continuing challenges posed by the state economy and the harsh reality of the current revenue shortfall and how the governor intends to approach those problems."
"The recent forecast provided by the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) indicates that the economy will continue to wane, at least through 2009-10, and that state budget deficits predicted for 2008-09 and 2009-10 will increase significantly," he added. "The economic forecast drives the projection of state revenues and, as well, the Proposition 98 funding calculation."
He added: "The LAO's projections indicate that, again, there will not be sufficient funding within Proposition 98 to continue the current ongoing educational programs and fully fund the statutory cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The question now becomes, 'What trade-offs will be made to produce a balanced state budget and provide the required level of funding to K-14 education?'"
Schwarzenegger's budget proposal was released Dec. 31, 10 days earlier than the constitutional deadline of Jan. 10, giving school districts and Bennett's SSC organization more time to analyze the proposed cuts and react to them.
The governor's proposed budget identifies a $41.6 billion deficit at the end of Fiscal Year 2009-10 and includes $41.6 billion in solutions over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30 and the 2009-10 fiscal year, including expenditure reductions, revenues and borrowing.
Faced with the reductions, School Supt. John Casey and his key management team, called "The Cabinet," including Cazares, prepared the list of possible cuts for review by the school board and public over the coming weeks. Reductions would be required to balance both fiscal year budgets if the proposed state education funds are reduced as currently proposed in Sacramento.
It's also possible that none of the cuts would have to be made if Schwarzenegger and the state legislature can find the means to resolve the state's growing budget crisis without making major reductions in education funding.
In an email sent to all district employees late Thursday, Casey warned that the budget cuts being proposed by him and his cabinet could mean reductions in faculty, programs and an end to class size reductions for kindergarten to third grade classes.
"The attached list of "Possible Reductions," represents the first step in our effort to prepare for this dismal financial situation," Casey said. "While I know that all of our programs and staff contribute to the success of our students, the positions and programs on the list are ones to at least consider reducing in these extreme financial times."
At Tuesday's meeting, only the second one since the new school board was seated following the Nov. 4 election, Cazares will report on Monday's workshop and lead the discussion with Casey on the budget development process.
The board will determine which certificated employees (teachers) will receive notices of "possible layoff" by March 15. For classified employees, there is a "45 day notice" requirement, but Casey said the district intends to let people who might be affected know as soon as possible.
"Over the next few months, we will monitor what happens at the state level regarding modifications to the governor's proposal," he said. "The board welcomes suggestions or ideas from you and the community. By May 15, a final notice of layoff will be provided to affected certificated employees, and a list of affected classified employees will be finalized as well. Over the summer, we will make adjustments as possible to bring people back or make additional reductions if necessary.
Among the major cuts under consideration are class-size reductions in the elementary school grades of kindergarten through third grade, where classes are now limited to 20 students, and similar reductions more recently established for high school freshmen classes in English and mathematics. By eliminating both programs, the district would save $2 million. In Casey's list, the two class-size reductions could affect 88 teaching positions.
Reductions would cut deeply into administrative staffs at the 13 schools the district operates as well as at district headquarters, cutting some vice principal, counselor and district professionals.