Wednesday, February 20, 2008

State cuts trouble Sarvis


Just as Santa Barbara School District officials were getting a firm handle on what its pocket book looked like earlier this year, the State of California announced it would make about $4 billion in cuts to education.
With declining enrollment continuing to plague the district, the forecast for the future looked rocky as it was, with a projected $4.5 million deficit by 2010.

But now the numbers look far worse, so bad that District Superintendent Dr. Brian Sarvis met with members of the media yesterday to discuss the wide-reaching cuts – about $4 million worth -- that the district will likely have to make this year.
“It’s pretty gloomy,” said Eric D. Smith, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for business. “We’ve got to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Smith said it’s possible that the projected $4 million in cuts could increase or decrease as the year drags on. But for now, that’s the number the Board of Education will work with while discussing potential cuts.
He said the $4 million number was settled on after extrapolating what the $4 billion in cuts statewide translated to at the local level.
Smith said $2 million will be cut from the district’s general purpose revenue stream, which can be used for anything, while $900,000 in cuts are expected in “categorical income,” which includes such things as home to school transportation and instructional materials. He said more than $500,000 is expected to be cut from special education, while the remainder will be cut from a number of programs throughout the district that rely on state funding.
While these are the areas that will initially be impacted by what happens at the state level, it will be up to district officials to make cuts wherever they deem appropriate.
By next month, Sarvis said the district will send lay-off notices to teachers as it does each year, but the number of pink slips issued will likely be higher this year.
Sarvis said he did not yet know how many positions could be cut, but noted that in a district with 2,700 employees, which accounts for 85 percent of the total $129 million operating budget, human cuts might be the most logical place to start.
“If we’re looking at cuts we’re looking at cuts to programs and people,” Sarvis said.
He said the school board will begin the task of deciding what and where to cut at their next board meeting on Tuesday Feb. 26.
Last year the district made $2.5 million in cuts to school programs, but ended up re-implimenting about $500,000 worth of these programs after a $2 million budget surplus was unearthed during a spring budget discussion.
Since the budget discrepancy was realized, two top budget officials have resigned from their posts and the district has just recently managed to understand exactly where it stood fiscally.
But if there ever was a feeling of relief on behalf of district officials, it was short lived.
“To be hit with a projection like this throws us back in the need of planning cuts,” Sarvis said.
Smith said the Santa Barbara School Districts won’t be alone in having to make cuts. He said about 50 percent of school districts in California are suffering from declining enrollment and will be faced with making similar cuts.
Sarvis said districts experiencing growth and those that are funded heavily through property taxes will not be hit as hard by the state’s cuts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If enrollment is declining, shouldn't they naturally be paring back?