School board considers future as state defers money to schools

By Sarah Sapeda

City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District will receive an additional $45.7 million, but 44 percent of that will not be spent until the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Chief Financial Officer Ron Little said Tuesday.

Although no action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Education heard a presentation from Little on how the recently adopted state budget and a new schedule for the deferment of state funds promised to schools would affect district revenue.

The state will dole out $45.7 million to the district on top of its $1.057 billion operating budget, but 44 percent of those funds will be deferred until July 1, 2012 with an updated state deferral schedule, leaving the district with about $26 million extra this year. The funding deferrals have

gone on for years as a way for the state to balance its own budget.

About $36 million of the additional funds will come from an anticipated $4 billion in tax revenue to go to California schools, but if those funds are not generated schools will be forced to make mid-year cuts.

“This is a very risky scenario with a lot of factors out of our control,’' said Board Member Scott Barnett.

Little said if $2 million of tax revenue is not reached by December, cuts will be necessary, including a school year shortened by seven days saving the district an estimated $26 million.

“This is an incredibly sobering report,’' said Superintendent Bill Kowba. “If we guess wrong at any point we could have an additional build of too much staff and too much commitment to something or another.’'

Kowba announced July 8, that the district would spend $26.7 million to recall the equivalent of about 300 full time teaching positions to keep class sizes small, 24 students per teacher in kindergarten through third grade, and 20 to one in 29 schools in economically disadvantaged areas.