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Santa Rosa Schools still has cuts to make

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa City Schools is still grappling with how to cut approximately $376,000 from its 2012-13 budget despite slashing the school year by six days and dropping the budget reserve from three percent to one percent.

Sonoma County’s largest school district has already approved the closure of the business computers and information technology pathway at Elsie Allen High School and the engineering technology pathway at Maria Carrillo, cut transportation funding by $500,000 and reduced employee dental benefits by $50,000 with the recommendation that coverage include two annual cleanings rather than the current four.

Cuts are expected to total $8.3 million from its $130 million budget when the board makes its final determination at the May 23 meeting.

“The clock is ticking on us to get this done,” Associate Superintendent Doug Bower said at the board’s regular meeting Wednesday night.

Still unclear is whether the district will realize approximately $400,000 in savings it had assumed when board members voted in March to close Doyle Park Elementary School at the end of the school year. That vote is now the subject of legal dispute.

Trustee Bill Carle asked staff to present the board with information of implications if the district drops its reserve down to 0.7 percent to cover the remaining $376,000 in cuts.

“At what point do you say ‘We are in really bad shape’ and actually use the reserve?” he said. “I’m certainly not in favor of another furlough day.”

“Just as part of the discussion, I wouldn’t not look at that,” he said. “I think it’s worth looking at all aspects of it.”

But Bower warned against such a move.

“It’s money on paper, but it’s pretty real in terms of just being able to stay solvent,” he said.

In other business Wednesday night, Piner High School earned long-awaited approval for construction of its science and technology laboratory and astronomical observatory. The $2.6 million construction cost, split evenly between state and district funds primarily dedicated to maintenance and facilities projects, was approved 6-0.

Board member Laura Gonzalez was absent.

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com.





7 Responses to “Santa Rosa Schools still has cuts to make”

  1. Follower says:

    Vouchers.

    …next?

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  2. Reality Check says:

    “Go to the School District’s website and see if you can find any info on the School District budget.”

    Excellent idea, Canthisbe, that everyone should do, and then demand the school district provide taxpayers with budget transparency. Comparing spending over time is almost impossible.

    Only by digging through monthly minutes could I find budget documents, and then not for many years. When I did this, for 2009-2010, I found that federal stimulus money resulted in the district having more money to spend than the previous year. But that wasn’t what I was reading in the PD.

    To be sure, school revenue has not keep pace with rising personnel costs, which is the problem everyone wants to ignore.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  3. Canthisbe says:

    “At what point do you say ‘We are in really bad shape’ and actually use the reserve?” he said. “I’m certainly not in favor of another furlough day.”

    “Sonoma County’s largest school district has already approved the closure of the business computers and information technology pathway at Elsie Allen High School and the engineering technology pathway at Maria Carrillo, cut transportation funding by $500,000 and reduced employee dental benefits by $50,000 with the recommendation that coverage include two annual cleanings rather than the current four”.

    How can anyone expect the school district to cut any more when it already eliminated two of the four paid dental cleanings for the staff? How do you expect the kids to learn anything if their teachers have bad breath?

    Reality Check raises a good issue. Go to the School District’s website and see if you can find any info on the School District budget.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  4. Marc says:

    Since we are paying per student and bonds to maintain the schools, I think we are entitled to a “detailed expense report” of where all the money goes! I am guessing it is NOT all for the Students as they preach for more money.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  5. Reality Check says:

    I wish the PD would do a little math for these kinds of stories. The latest SR per student costs are $8917. At an average of 25 students per class, that’s about $223,000 per class for a 180-day year. Where does all that money go?

    The results of the science test of the National Assessment of Student Progress were just announced. Yep, California students flunked, ranking 47 out of 51. Some states that spend more than California did better, but not all. And some states that spend about the same, or even less, also did better. Money and test results did not correlate well at all.

    Before we jump up and do what so many want to do–spend more money–how about we figure where the money now goes and why California does so poorly with what it does spend?

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  6. Steveguy says:

    GAJ is right. Cut the schools, close the parks, we need more cell phone and seat belt cops !

    Does anyone else notice that in the Road Warrior column, all of the ‘enforcement actions’ for traffic are funded by a Federal Grant?

    We are feeding the Judicial Industrial Coimplex at the expense of Education, AND public safety !

    Jaywalking tickets aren’t as dangerous as apprehending real criminals, and they have to pay up in court !

    Pay your fines and shut up ! Support your local Police !

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  7. GAJ says:

    Education has been, and will continue to be, sacrificed to feed the insatiable budget demands of Public Safety locally and Statewide.

    We’ll be reading stories like this for decades to come, unfortunately.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

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