Summer will be spent contemplating cuts

As local students are on their summer vacations, their school district leaders won’t know for months whether their scholars’ favorite classes, programs and aides will be gone when they return in the fall.

Unlike in previous years, officials are still guessing what will be cut before fall and will continue doing so all summer. Virtually all districts are facing financial cuts that could affect class sizes, employees and programs such as music and art.

School districts had to finalize this year’s budget by Monday, an irritating deadline because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger likely will not finish his budget, which includes education funding, until some time in July, Redwood City School District Chief Business Official Raul Parungao said.

The districts will thenhave 45 days to react to the governor’s final budget, leaving school leaders to decide on the upcoming school year’s budget a few weeks or days before school starts, or possibly after.

District officials doubt that two of Schwarzenegger’s recent school budget-saving plans — either a $5 billion lottery profit increase or a 1 percent sales-tax hike — will exist on the final July budget as both have come under scrutiny because they would have to be passed by voters. As a result, they say this year they are passing budgets based mostly on speculation, projections and historical data.

Ed Lavigne, Sequoia Union High School District’s chief business official, said that this year is ambiguous because of the state’s $15 billion to $17 billion deficit.

“That is one of the challenges for many districts in California,” Parungao said. “We are required to have our budget in place by June 30, but we’re basing it on something that hasn’t been signed into law by the governor.”

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

California school districts’ budget challenges

» June 30: Deadline for school districts to approve budget

» July: Final state budget hoped to be approved

» 45 days: Period after state budget is approved that districts can revise budget

» $10 million: Cuts faced by San Francisco Unified School District» $1 million: Cuts faced by Redwood City School District

» $3 million: Cuts faced by South San Francisco Unified School District during this and next two years

» $750,000-$1.25 million: Cuts faced by Sequoia Union High School District

» $750,000: Cuts faced by Belmont-Redwood Shores School District

» $3.2 million: Cuts faced by San Mateo County Office of Education

» $1 million: Reserve money used during each of next three years by Jefferson Elementary School District, which is looking at additional cuts

» $1.5 million: Reserves used by Jefferson Union High School District to temporarily avoid cuts

» $1 million to $1.2 million: Cuts faced by Cabrillo Unified School District

Sources: School districts

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