Uncertainty prevails in school budget | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Uncertainty prevails in school budget

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Vicki Barber, El Dorado County superintendent of schools, prefers the May revised state budget proposal over the initial plan issued in January.

Yet she’s advising 16 school districts to act like it doesn’t exist.

Gov. Gray Davis, who announced a gentler impact to education this month in a proposal to counter a $38 billion state deficit, focused on $8.3 billion in revenue generated by taxes on vehicle licensing fees, cigarettes and temporarily increasing sales tax by half a cent.

With Republicans against tax hikes and likely to vote against the proposal, Barber is exercising caution.

“… we’re advising school districts. . . they can’t count on these May revised numbers until we see a budget being enacted,” Barber said. “Our counsel to school districts is to still rely on January numbers. We don’t think this is a done deal at this point in time.”

Diane Head, chief financial officer for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, said the May revised budget took more chunks out of areas such as instructional materials and deferred maintenance, which covers paint, carpet and other items.

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Head calculated $90,000 would be taken out of the instructional material fund, a slash of about 41 percent compared to the proposed 12 percent in January. Deferred maintenance would take a hit of 67 percent, or $120,000. January’s proposal called for a 11 percent reduction.

If the May proposal does go through, the cut on average daily attendance will be less severe. School districts receive state funding for each student in a desk. LTUSD, which has lost funding from declining enrollment, currently receives $4,743 per student.

The January budget called for a $100 cut per student. May’s proposal was a cut of $60. The $40 difference could save the district precious dollars as declining enrollment is expected to continue.

In addition, there won’t be a cost of living increase, which the district had budgeted.