by Winston Chua
SAN GABRIEL – Bracing themselves for the worst, the SanGabriel School Board met Tuesday night to discuss the next episode in what hasbeen a series of crippling budget cuts to SGUSD. On top of the $2 million incuts they faced last year, the Governor’s new, proposed budget calls for anadditional $1.3 million in cuts. These reductions in education are part of $1billion in cuts to education Statewide.
“The thing that makes this so unimaginable and horrific isthat the $1.3 million is the best case scenario,” said San Gabriel school boardmember Scott Svonkin. Because very little spending in education isdiscretionary, SGUSD may have to look for creative approaches in maintaining abalanced budget that seems tough to prepare for. More than 85 percent of budgetdollars are fixed in personnel.
In the fiscal year ending in June or 2009, SGUSD increasedit’s overall revenue by 6.1 percent, to $55.7 million. However, total expensesalso rose, totaling $56.2 million. Administrative activities of the Districtaccounted for 6.6 percent of total costs and education and student care made up72.6 percent of all programs and services.
“It’s like hitting amoving target. If the school budget is cut another million for San Gabriel, itdoesn’t mean that’s what the final budget approved will be,” said board memberScott Svonkin. “It’s like trying to predict the wind or the rain.”
SGUSD, according to Svonkin, may hire newer, cheaperteachers to replace the number who retire. He notes that the crop of qualityteachers who may need jobs could be at a high level. Several dozen teachers areeligible for retirement, but increasing class sizes remains an unpopularoption.
Additional ways to raise revenue and cut costs also includethe possibility of a parcel tax of $100 to $150 to generate school funding ormoving graduation ceremonies from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to PasadenaCity College or East Los Angeles College. There is also the idea of fees forextracurricular activities like sports or music. Should the District need to dipinto their revenue, roughly 6 percent of their budget is available. The schoolboard may in the near future go line by line in budget discussions to see ifthere are ways to find savings.
Last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed bills aimed at closingthe State’s $23.241 billion shortfall. In Feb. 2009 President Obama signed theAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and dedicated more than $11.0billion over three years for California’s schools, colleges and universities.
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