Wednesday, 17 July 2024

School officials examine governor's budget proposal to determine local impacts

LAKE COUNTY – School officials around Lake County will meet this week to discuss the implications of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May budget revise and its possible impacts on local schools.

Lake County Office of Education Superintendent Dave Geck said district superintendents will meet Monday for a budget workshop on the revise, which was released May 14.

The May revise, he said, looks slightly kinder to schools than the January budget draft, which proposed $4.8 billion in cuts to education. The revise, he added, has adjusted that number to $4 billion.

North Coast Sen. Pat Wiggins said Schwarzenegger's revised budget “offers little more than a fig leaf for education.”

She added, “We can’t have a world class state with a world class economy without a strong education system – and this budget means our schools will still have to lay off teachers, reduce staff and increase class sizes.”

Although schools won't have a good sense about the shape of things to come until further analysis is completed later in the week, Geck said one of his hopes is to be able to rescind some of the layoff notices given to staff – teachers as well as some administrators – in March.

Across the county, “We sent notices out to 80 out of 530 teachers,” Geck said.

Many teachers, he said, are “holding their breath” to see how the revised budget will pencil out for local schools.

Most of those receiving layoff notices are the newest and brightest teachers, said Geck. The impact on them might be more far-reaching than just losing a job – some may decide to leave the profession altogether.

Also facing cuts are classified employees – bus drivers, custodians and aides.

“If you don't put a face on the pain, people really don't get it,” Geck said.

If schools end up having to cut their budgets across the board, as they originally were told they would have to do, “it will unravel a lot of successful programs up and down the state, and in this county, particularly,” he said.

Lake County is facing cuts to arts and music classes, as well as hits to its efforts at class size reduction, Geck said.

The California Budget Project estimated in a report issued this spring that the governor's initial budget would impact all of the county's 9,270 public school students, with proposed cuts to the five largest funding allocations for public schools equaling reductions of $627 per student.

An Assembly Budget Committee analysis of Schwarzenegger's May revise said a proposal to suspend Proposition 98 funds was withdrawn, and an additional $1.1 billion will be allocated.

There would be no cost-of-living adjustment for K-12 programs, and most K-12 programs would still be subject to the across-the-board cuts proposed in January, with funding also reduced to deferred maintenance, according to the report.

However, the report states that some cuts to special education and other programs would be restored. Additional funding also is proposed through Proposition 98 to assist in recruitment and personnel management, and separate legislation would fund assisting districts in meeting accountability measures.

The May revise will figure importantly in the way districts approach crafting their budgets for the coming year, said Geck, a process which will get under way in June.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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