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$30-Million Hole 'Best-Case Scenario' for Capistrano School District

Red ink could grow to $50 million, school district officials say.

$30-Million Hole 'Best-Case Scenario' for Capistrano School District

A $30-million shortfall is the “best-case scenario” for the Capo Unified School District next year, according to a report presented Monday night.

The worst case is $50 million in red ink for 2012-13, said interim Deputy Superintendent Robyn Phillips, speaking before the CUSD school board.

“In order to balance our budget for next year, the district will need to reduce expenditures by 10 to 15 cents of every dollar we spend,” Phillips said. “We can’t pretend that we can avoid any impact, [but] we can look at ways to do it as sensitively as we can.”

CUSD's curent overall budget is about $340 million, according to Phillips.

Phillips said if voters don't approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed temporary tax increases in November, the shortfall will grow to $48 million.

And, Phillips added, the number could reach $50 million if a proposed cut to transportation funding is replaced by a “revenue limit reduction.”

“In school budgeting, things can change, and we know that things will change,” Phillips said. 

Although cuts in state funding are the main reason for the expected shortfall, Phillips said, the end of federal stimulus money and declining enrollment are also factors.

The average daily attendance at CUSD has dropped by 1,590 since 2010-11, which translates to a loss of $8.3 million.

The district has also come to the end of $45 million in federal stimulus money, including $12 million spent this year. 

(To see the Phillips' full PowerPoint presentation, click here and scroll to page 12.)

In the wake of continuing budget cuts, the district has already eliminated jobs, increased class sizes, reduced bus routes and instituted furlough days.

Next year's shortfall will mean more of the same, Phillips said.

To balance the budget, district staff has proposed postponing plans for a transitional kindergarten program, offering retirement incentives, and putting a freeze on new hires and spending for all nonessential jobs and purchases.

Optional cuts on the table include increasing class sizes for grades K-12, additional furlough days and additional pay cuts.

“This is a no-win situation,” said school board President Gary Pritchard. “It seems like at every turn Sacramento’s budget just keeps cutting our legs out from under us.”

“We look forward to the day when we actually can start building a program, [when] we have enough funds and revenue,” Pritchard said.

Other Business

  • Officials approved a redistricting map that changes the areas from which the school board's seven trustees are elected. In a 5-2 vote, the board chose Map J, which divides San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel into three sections and cuts Mission Viejo, Dana Point and San Clemente in two, but keeps Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita intact. During the discussion, Lynn Hatton proposed moving Tesoro High School from District 2 to District 7. Her motion carried and the new map passed 5-2, with trustees Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo dissenting. To view the new map (minus the addition of Tesoro High School to district 7), click here.
  • Between 30 to 50 people attended to support Eric Patton, a San Clemente High School football coach who was placed on administrative leave Aug. 15 following accusations of a kickback scheme involving an athletic supply company. A similar show of support took place Sept 13.

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