http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/02/01/budget-take-one


Danville Express

Perspective - February 1, 2008

Budget, take one

Outrage was the school district's response to the California budget proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger that would cut education by $4.3 billion in the 2008-09 school year. When the proposed budget was revealed, Superintendent Rob Kessler mailed a letter to parents Jan. 16, reporting the San Ramon Valley Unified School District had immediately implemented a spending freeze. The school board had been ready to approve a tentative agreement between the district and the teachers association at its meeting that night but received notice that the county Office of Education was returning its budget analysis since it did not reflect the governor's proposed cuts.

The school district's annual budget is $199 million, with 88 percent of this coming from the state. The new budget would mean cutting $3 million to $3.5 million in unrestricted revenues from the state plus another $1 million to $1.5 million received for mandated programs. This would mean no funds to pay typical annual increases, such as cost of living, health benefit costs, worker's comp and other premiums.

We have the distinction of being a "low wealth" school district in a "high wealth" community. Revenue limits were placed in 1972 based on pupil funding at that time and ours were set lower because this area was designated "rural." Compare the following revenue limits per student for 2000-2001:

San Ramon Valley: $4,650

Dublin: $5,704

Pleasanton: $5,392

Mt. Diablo: $4,679

State average: $4,753

(Updated figures, received after press time, are:

San Ramon Valley: $5,770

Dublin: $6,679

Pleasanton: $6,367

State average: $5,821)

The district, local businesses and nonprofit groups have done a wonderful job partnering to provide a quality education befitting the expectations of the families and residents. Our school district was already dealing with the growth in Dougherty Valley and facing the challenges of finding a new superintendent, with Kessler leaving at the end of this school year; now it also must cope with the proposed budget cuts.

With the spending freeze, the district is analyzing each and every expense for possible changes and reductions. Kessler has called for a grassroots effort to demand that the Legislation not suspend Proposition 98, which was updated in 1996 to guarantee minimum school funding. We must make our voices heard so the final budget will be kinder to education.

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