http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/06/26/school-district-oks-2009-10-budget


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - June 26, 2009

School District OKs 2009-10 budget

Class sizes won't change this year

by Geoff Gillette

Despite the ongoing fiscal uncertainty at the state level, members of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District on Tuesday gave their unanimous approval to a $215.5 million budget that will keep class sizes stable for another year and maintain the jobs of more than 200 teachers faced with layoffs.

Board members met June 23 to discuss the spending plan which, even with cuts throughout a number of areas, will still outstrip projected revenues by slightly more than 8 percent.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Gary Black presented the budget to board members, explaining that with so few solid numbers coming from the state, any assumptions they make are little better than speculation. "There are many unanswered questions and many assumptions that we just won't know for months," he explained.

The most recent revision of the budget in Sacramento shows funding to SRVUSD reduced by $17.9 million, a loss of roughly $655 per pupil.

One-time federal dollars from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as the recent approval of Measure C will help offset some of the deficit in the spending plan but the district still will have to take $5.5 million from its reserves in order to fund the budget.

This will leave just over $13 million in reserves for the coming year. Black said of that amount, $6.6 million is the state mandated 3 percent reserve, $2.1 million is listed as the board's reserve, and the rest is set aside for several different funds.

Under the budget, class sizes for K-3 and ninth-grade math will stay at the 20:1 for the coming school year but are expected to increase to 24:1 in the following year. Of the 240 teachers who received layoff notices in March, all but three part-time positions have been rescinded.

Employee salaries and benefits account for over 80 percent of the school district budget. The newly approved budget carries a $1 million increase for step and column raises for teachers. Conversely, teachers will be asked to take two unpaid furlough days in 2009-10, three in 2010-11 and four in 2011-12. Those concessions have yet to be approved by the California Teachers Union.

The situation remains fluid at the state level, which could be good or bad for the district. Black pointed to a current plan in Sacramento to cut down the $24 billion state deficit by nearly $20 billion. He added that there is word that there could be Cost Of Living Adjustments (COLA) of 0.9 percent in 2009-10 and 2.4 percent in 2010-11 that could also result in some additional revenues to help offset the continuing drain on local coffers.

Black said while they are hopeful of seeing the Cost Of Living Adjustments, they are creating their plans based on a flat revenue stream. "That's really our best case scenario at this point, hoping to survive on a flat basis."

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