21 Aug 2014
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$2.5-Million Budget Cut Targets Teachers, Aides

Santa Monica-Maliibu Unified adopts fiscal year 2012-13 budget that trims spending by $2.5 million. Darker days are ahead if California voters reject the governor's tax initiatives this November.

$2.5-Million Budget Cut Targets Teachers, Aides $2.5-Million Budget Cut Targets Teachers, Aides

The Santa Monica-Malibu School District will trim spending by $2.5 million, mostly by lopping teaching and classroom aides positions, in the new fiscal year under a $120.7-million budget adopted Wednesday. 

It's letting go of nine employees in non-teaching positions and will not fill 20 full-time positions, most of them by teachers who are either retiring or leaving the district.

More cuts could come this fall.

The district's 2012-13 budget, which has a General Fund of $120.7 million, hinges on the state's budget, which contains automatic trigger cuts for California's public schools if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiatives fail in November.

"Without them, we're faced with a dire situation," said board member Ralph Mechur.

The California governor signed a budget Wednesday that increases funding by 14 percent for K-12 education and community colleges. But the funding is subject to voter approval of his ballot measure that would hike the statewide sales tax by one-quarter of one cent for four years and increase income taxes for the wealthiest Californians by up to 3 percent for seven years.

K-12 schools stand to lose $5.4 billion—equivalent to three weeks of instruction—if voters don't get on board with the tax hikes.

If the tax measure is unsuccessful, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified's operational deficit of $5.2 million will nearly double, hitting $10 million. That would leave the district $457 in state funding per student.

"With state triggers looming, it may be necessary to consider negotiating an agreement with employees that reduces costs by $2.0 million in 2012-13 and $4 million in 2013-14. Additional reductions in the budget will still be necessary," wrote the district's Chief Financial Officer Jan Maez in a memo to the Board of Education.

In the past four years, the district has slashed $11.3 million from its budgets, primarily by increasing the ratio of students to staff. 

In 2009-2010, it reduced its budget by $4.6 million, and saved $2.2 million by mandating five furlough days. In 2010-2011, the district repeated this furlough plan, reducing its budget by $7.2 million. According to Maez, $3 million of that was later restored by funding that became available later in the year.

No additional reductions or furlough days were approved in 2011-12. 

Board members praised Maez for her attention to detail, and expressed general satisfaction with the district's financial situation, given its state-imposed constraints.

"When we look at ourselves compared to other districts, we are really faring a lot better," said board member Maria Leon-Vasquez. She described this year's cuts as "deliberate" and "precise."

"Hopefully this great state of ours will get itself together," Leon-Vasquez said.

What did the district cut?

FTE    Amount      Description
0.7     $87,500       Site Admin - Elementary APs
1.0     $127,500     Special Education Coordinator
3.0     $240,000     Special Education Classroom Teachers
5.0     $325,000     Special Education Instructional Assistants (laid off)
1.0     $75,000       Fiscal/Human Resources (laid off)
3.0     $150,000     Site - Senior Office Specialists (laid off)
16.7   $1,336,000  Classroom Teachers - staffing ratio changes
         $200,000     Supplies, Contracts, Other Services
         $2,541,000

* FTE = Full Time Equivalent positions

Click here for more budget information from SMMUSD.

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