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Stagnant property taxes could affect school board

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Truancy and next year’s anticipated stagnant property taxes will affect the Western Placer Unified School District’s budget. Although no action was taken at the school district meeting Tuesday, truancy and property tax impacts on the district’s budget was discussed Tuesday. The updates were given as information for the board, who must approve the district budget next month. Budget cut suggestions made by the district’s budget committee total $3 million. Joyce Lopes, the school district’s assistant superintendent of business services, gave the board an update on budget assumptions for the district’s 2011-2012 budget. “Enrollment next year, for the first time, may be down,” Lopes said. As of May 3, there were 6,456 students enrolled in the district, which is estimated to drop to 6,225, according to the meeting’s agenda packet. There is a 5-percent projected decrease in enrollment, according to Lopes. As for property tax, Lopes said, the district has estimated a 0-percent increase for the next three years, Lopes said. The district receives funding through average daily attendance (ADA), Lopes said, and is projected to receive $4,754 per student next year. “The majority of our ADA comes through property taxes,” Lopes said. “The 2011-2012 estimated unrestricted (property taxes) is $31.8.” “We meet regularly with the county assessor’s office,” Lopes said. “A big impact for us is developers and most have gone before the (Placer County Assessor’s Office) and are requesting reassessments.” Board member Paul Long said he was “surprised” about the property taxes. “I thought they would fall,” Long said. In other news, the district will be more aggressive about student absences next year, according to the district’s deputy superintendent Mary Boyle. The District Attendance Work Group formed this year and will meet monthly during the next school year to monitor student attendance and provide attendance data to each school site, Boyle said. “Last year, WPUSD lost approximately $1.3 million in state revenues at approximately $30 per day per student, due to student absences,” Boyle said. The district’s attendance rate is 95.5 percent, according to Boyle. “While this is a very positive figure, the high rates of attendance of most of our students mask the lower attendance rates of others,” Boyle said. “When students are absent, opportunities for learning are lost, impacting the student, the teacher, the classmates and support staff.” A 95.5 percent attendance rate equates one absence per month for a student, according to Boyle. “More than that is a chronic absence issue,” Boyle said. “At 14 absences, we will invoke the board policy.” After 14 absences, a letter would be sent out and further absences “must be verified by a physician,” according to the policy. If that does not happen, the Student Attendance Review Board would be involved, Boyle said, which could include a meeting at the Santucci Justice Center, a branch of the Placer County Superior Court in Roseville. A judge may also visit Lincoln High School once a month to speak with those chronically absent, according to Boyle. “The judge will encourage students to attend school,” Boyle said.