Grappling with a state fiscal crisis that has forced repeated reductions, Lemon Grove School District trustees adopted a balanced budget for the coming year, trimming even more from its $28.7 million current budget to close the gap on an anticipated $4.3 million deficit.
The five-member governing board voted 4-0 to pass the $27.8 million budget for 2012-2013. Board president Jay Bass was absent from Tuesday night's meeting.
In May, Gov. Brown revised his 2012-13 budget proposal to estimate the state’s budget gap at nearly $16 billion—a $6.5 billion increase over the January estimate. Brown is counting on about $6 billion in revenue if his November tax initiative passes. But if voters reject the tax measure, $4.8 billion in school cuts will be triggered.
That would mean a midyear cut of $1.6 million for the district.
A declining enrollment pattern has cost the district about 861 students since 2000-01, which resulted in a loss of approximately $5.3 million in funds.
The projected enrollment in the K-8 district in the coming school year is 3,718 students across six schools. The new Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities, which combines the middle school and Golden Avenue Elementary School campuses, becomes the largest school in the district serving more than 1,000 students.
Dr. Gina Potter, assistant superintendent of business services, said estimated numbers are difficult to meet as the district continues to deal with budget crisis years.
The district was able to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind—something that has become difficult in the current economy—even without actual numbers being closed out for the current school year.
"Every year this is a challenge for most districts nowadays," she said.
Potter said in order to reach the $4.3 million reduction, the budget shows a savings of $531,484 achieved through lay off notices approved by the board.
Monday, however, the district and the Lemon Grove Teachers Association reached a tentative agreement that would restore eight permanent and probationary certificated teachers who had received pink slips. The union has tentatively agreed to three furlough days that bring an estimated savings of $325,000. Members will vote on whether to ratify the agreement June 17.
Budget reductions include:
- $1.3 million in operational and funding realignment
- $212,079 in temp certificated layoffs
- $78,603 in administrative restructuring
- $325,000 in negotiated furlough days
- $250,000 in school closure
- $275,000 in leasing out Palm Middle School (2012-13 only)
- $1.657 million in spending down the reserve monies approved by trustees this school year in anticipation of 2012/13 midyear cuts, pending the governor's tax initiative
Potter said this allocation pending the governor's tax initiative will rise to meet the $4.3 million target after union negations and actual numbers are complete. She said the district has planned for midyear budget cuts and will hit its target "spot on."
During the June 5 budget workshop, Potter said the governor's tax proposal is ambiguous and leads the public to believe its passage will add $6 billion to school funding. She said it only closes an educational funding gap that already exists.
If the tax initiative fails, midyear cuts are imminent and the district will have a cumulative total of $7.47 million in within-fiscal-year deferrals—nearly 60 percent of revenues received late in the year or the following school year.
Board member Katie Dexter requested that $22,000 found in savings costs of fingerprinting, district memberships and the elimination of the Family Literacy program be divided among the six schools, per enrollment size, for school supplies.
"It is only a little bit more money," she said. "But it is one more pencil per kid."