School board confirms fiscal solvency for next two years

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The school district confirmed its ability to meet financial obligations in light of reports that $6.86 million in cuts will need to be made in fiscal year 2013-2014. The Western Placer Unified School District board of trustees voted Tuesday night to certify the second interim report for 2011-2012 as positive. By certifying the report as positive, “the board confirms its fiduciary responsibility to maintain fiscal solvency for the current and subsequent two fiscal years,” according to Western Placer Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Joyce Lopes. The district will implement $5.75 million in budget cuts in 2012-2013 “to retain a positive certification,” according to Lopes. Those reductions were approved Feb. 28 and include $3.25 million in ongoing reductions and $2.5 million in one-time reductions, Lopes said. Lopes said furloughs days and concessions made by teaching staff are “all one-time” and need to be renegotiated each year. To achieve a balanced budget in 2013-2014, Lopes said, the district will need to cut $6.86 million from its budget. The district’s budget committee will start meeting in September to start talking about those cuts, Lopes said. “We have done everything we can think of to keep layoffs off as long as possible,” Lopes said. “We’ll have to be creative in how we get through the next couple of years.” Changes have been made to this year’s budget since October 2011, Lopes said. “Triggers cost us $300,000 this year,” Lopes said. The triggers Lopes referred to are ones put in place when the state’s budget was passed. “When the state budget was passed for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, it included provisions that would trigger midyear reductions if $4 billion in additional revenues were not attained,” Lopes said. There was also an expense savings of $150,000, according to Lopes, who said “elections costs weren’t what we thought they would be and we had savings.” Lopes said the district will need to transfer $2 million from its deferred maintenance fund next year to leave “an adequate fund balance.” The district will also “need to focus on restoring reserves in the coming years,” Lopes said. “Your explanation of this was very clear,” board member Brian Haley said to Lopes. “How we get out of this murky mess from the state is unclear.” Board member Paul Long said that the district is “handcuffed completely” by the state. “How can we cut more than that has already happened? I don’t see how we can cut more and still serve children,” Long said. One of the budget cuts approved by the board on Feb. 28 for the 2012-2013 school year is the elimination of adult education, which includes English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Delfino Vasques, an ESL student, addressed the board during public comment, asking that they “please don’t cut” the program. ESL instructor Ramey Dern also addressed the board, there to “ask you to please save adult education.” “We are a low-budget program that helps the community,” Dern said.