School board closes projected budget gap

Capping months of discussion, the IUSD Board of Education reluctantly voted to make a number of budget reductions and adjustments Tuesday night to resolve the projected deficit for the 2010-11 school year.

As a result, the Board was able to certify the district’s Second Interim Report as “positive,” meaning IUSD is on target to meet its financial obligations through next year, though another shortfall is expected in 2011-12 if state revenues don’t improve.

IUSD entered the evening facing a deficit of approximately $20 million for 2010-11 as a result of the state’s budget crisis, which has already stripped California’s schools of $17 billion over the last two years. The governor’s latest proposal threatens another $2.5 billion worth of cuts for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

To bridge the district’s gap between revenue and expenditures, school board members voted to approve the following:

  • Four furlough days for 2009-10, and eight for 2010-11 ($8,578,068)
  • District Office reorganization/reduction ($586,397)
  • The reduction of nursing services through attrition ($204,605)
  • The reallocation of so-called Tier III funds, which were made flexible through recent legislation ($896,410)
  • An increase in class sizes in grades one through three to an average of 30 students, with flex to 32 ($2.8 million)
  • Reductions in elementary art and music, as well as materials for science in grades 4-6 ($223,903)
  • Reductions in site administrative support ($61,133)
  • Staffing adjustments associated with the Secondary Writing Project – release days will be maintained – in grades seven through 12 ($564,009)
  • An increase in ninth-grade class sizes to an average of 32 ($962,220)
  • A 10 percent reduction in site allocations for materials and supplies ($350,000)
  • The use of onetime dollars that were set aside to cover retiree benefit liabilities ($1.85 million)
  • The use of onetime dollars set aside as a result of this year’s budget freeze ($1.57 million)
  • The transfer of onetime funds from an Irvine Ranch Water District easement account ($1.06 million)
  • Voluntary lab fees for elementary, art, music and science ($165,464)

Though IUSD’s budget is due in June, a number of statutory deadlines – including the submission of the Second Interim Report – require that some decisions be made no later than March.

Meanwhile, the next major budget milestone comes in May, when the governor is expected to share the latest fiscal information as part of his “May Revise.” Assistant Superintendent Lisa Howell noted that IUSD may need to take additional steps in the months ahead if the state budget picture changes.

Update: To read highlights of the entire meeting, click here.