‘Tailor made’ bill could protect district from cuts

A Hail Mary bill that is making its way though the state Capitol could allow a Peninsula school district to avoid deep budget cuts next year by allowing it to essentially borrow its own money.

If the legislation passes, the San Bruno Park School District, which faces $1.4 million in cuts next year, could borrow that amount and repay it using money it is to receive from a property sale.

“It’s the salvation for the San Bruno school district,” said state Sen. Leland Yee, who authored the bill. “They have a piece of legislation that literally is going to save their school district from any cuts whatsoever.”

In 2006, the school district sold its former Sandburg Elementary School site for $30 million to a residential developer. The money from that sale is earmarked for capital improvement and cannot be used to help offset general budget cuts. But

$1.4 million in interest payments can be used by the general fund.

Earlier this year, board trustee Russ Hanley came up with the idea to borrow $1.4 million for next school year.

“I was laying awake one night and I thought, ‘Why not be able to borrow your own money?’” Hanley said.

The legislation would allow the district to essentially access the $1.4 million early by borrowing funds and then paying back the loan using the interest it will receive next school year, Yee said.

Superintendent David Hutt and board President Skip Henderson traveled to Sacramento recently to support the bill.

“We would like to have a way to relieve the whole deficit, there’s no question about that,” Henderson said.

The bill is “tailor made” for San Bruno because of its unique situation that resulted from the sale of the school, so other districts will not be able to obtain similar loans if the bill passes, Yee said.

The state Senate Committee on Education, the bill’s first obstacle, approved the bill 9-0 last week. It will next appear before a senate appropriates committee before May 23.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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