The Saddleback Valley Unified School District expects to lose $1.6 million this year thanks to midyear budget cuts, its staff announced Tuesday at a school board meeting.
California is facing $1 billion in midyear trigger cuts because state revenue is $2.25 billion short of projections. That triggers specific midyear cuts in the state budget approved by the legislature in June, including eliminating funding for school buses, SVUSD Assistant Superintendent for Business Geri Partida told the school board.
But state revenues were high enough to spare the largest cuts to K-12 education, which could have forced districts to eliminate seven days from the school year. Partida told the board that the district had been fearing mid-year cuts of up to $8.6 million.
“It’s a short reprieve, most likely,” Partida said, adding that Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget for next year is likely to include new cuts to schools.
“It isn’t really better news,” trustee Suzie Swartz said. “It’s just less worse news.”
In addition to pressure from the state budget, Saddleback Valley schools face other unique pressures. Last year, the district lost 874 students, resulting in a $4.6-million loss in state funding. The district has the highest rate of declining enrollment of any unified school district in Orange County, Partida said.
SVUSD employees swallowed 10 to 13 percent pay cuts and other concessions totalling $26 million over three years to help the district deal with its budget woes. But now the district is also looking at restoring furlough days, salary concessions and smaller class sizes in 2012-13. Doing so would cost an additional $17 million, and would force the district to dip into its reserves to cover a budget deficit, Partida said.
School districts across the state were mostly spared from the midyear budget cuts announced by Gov. Brown on Tuesday.
Because the state fell $2.2 billion short of the rosy projections made when the budget passed in June, Brown said he would have to pull the trigger on some—but not all—of the cuts called for if revenue forecasts didn't materialize.
Hardest hit will be higher education, services for the disabled and child care, according to several published reports. K-12 schools will see a small hit of about $248 million to school-bus transportation—a far cry from $1.5-billion cut schools could have faced.
"It turns out the cuts are far less than they would have been," Brown said.
Besides school-bus transportation, the state will reduce its funding to schools by $11 per student.