$2.5-Million Budget Cut Targets Teachers, Aides

Santa Monica-Maliibu Unified adopts fiscal year 2012-13 budget that trims spending by $2.5 million. Darker days are ahead if California voters reject the governor's tax initiatives this November.

The Santa Monica-Malibu School District will trim spending by $2.5 million, mostly by lopping teaching and classroom aides positions, in the new fiscal year under a $120.7-million budget adopted Wednesday. 

It's letting go of nine employees in non-teaching positions and will not fill 20 full-time positions, most of them by teachers who are either retiring or leaving the district.

More cuts could come this fall.

The district's 2012-13 budget, which has a General Fund of $120.7 million, hinges on the state's budget, which contains automatic trigger cuts for California's public schools if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiatives fail in November.

"Without them, we're faced with a dire situation," said board member Ralph Mechur.

The California governor signed a budget Wednesday that increases funding by 14 percent for K-12 education and community colleges. But the funding is subject to voter approval of his ballot measure that would hike the statewide sales tax by one-quarter of one cent for four years and increase income taxes for the wealthiest Californians by up to 3 percent for seven years.

K-12 schools stand to lose $5.4 billion—equivalent to three weeks of instruction—if voters don't get on board with the tax hikes.

If the tax measure is unsuccessful, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified's operational deficit of $5.2 million will nearly double, hitting $10 million. That would leave the district $457 in state funding per student.

"With state triggers looming, it may be necessary to consider negotiating an agreement with employees that reduces costs by $2.0 million in 2012-13 and $4 million in 2013-14. Additional reductions in the budget will still be necessary," wrote the district's Chief Financial Officer Jan Maez in a memo to the Board of Education.

In the past four years, the district has slashed $11.3 million from its budgets, primarily by increasing the ratio of students to staff. 

In 2009-2010, it reduced its budget by $4.6 million, and saved $2.2 million by mandating five furlough days. In 2010-2011, the district repeated this furlough plan, reducing its budget by $7.2 million. According to Maez, $3 million of that was later restored by funding that became available later in the year.

No additional reductions or furlough days were approved in 2011-12. 

Board members praised Maez for her attention to detail, and expressed general satisfaction with the district's financial situation, given its state-imposed constraints.

"When we look at ourselves compared to other districts, we are really faring a lot better," said board member Maria Leon-Vasquez. She described this year's cuts as "deliberate" and "precise."

"Hopefully this great state of ours will get itself together," Leon-Vasquez said.

What did the district cut?

FTE    Amount      Description
0.7     $87,500       Site Admin - Elementary APs
1.0     $127,500     Special Education Coordinator
3.0     $240,000     Special Education Classroom Teachers
5.0     $325,000     Special Education Instructional Assistants (laid off)
1.0     $75,000       Fiscal/Human Resources (laid off)
3.0     $150,000     Site - Senior Office Specialists (laid off)
16.7   $1,336,000  Classroom Teachers - staffing ratio changes
         $200,000     Supplies, Contracts, Other Services

* FTE = Full Time Equivalent positions

Click here for more budget information from SMMUSD.

karen June 29, 2012 at 03:32 PM
again, repeal prop 13 and have taxes go to education, that is where this state went south...
JBB June 29, 2012 at 04:39 PM
If prop 13 is repealed, you will see an exodus of people from this state even more than is happening already. We are taxed enough, it's the State's priorities that are askew. They always tug on your heart strings talking about cuts to fire, police and education, just to get you to vote for a tax increase. In this huge bureacracy, they could find the cuts elsewhere if they really wanted to. We must force them to cut by NOT giving the bureacrats any more money. But Californians keep electing the same people over and over that have created this mess.
Terry June 29, 2012 at 05:12 PM
of course we have the money for the lights. stop this madness get the money in the classroom
Dan Charney June 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM
This state has been a mess since Prop 13 and Enron- everyone is always crying "everyone will leave if they bring Prop 13 to market levels" - I doubt it - how entitled that is- how do some think they deserve that kind of break when most don't get it and they have gotten it on the backs of everyone else for so long? I see three ways out of this: End Prop 13 and let them go if they want- they can take their selfish attitudes to another state- and cut half the fat out of the ridiculous top heavy local governments - way too many employees that waste their time and are so unnecessary- also - we have a town and area filled with seriously wealthy celebs who live here but send their kids to Crossroads or other private schools- at least let's go to them to do a few benefit concerts or something and help out the town they live in- I bet many of them would step up and do it- there are great celebs that have good Democratic attitudes and I bet they do care-
Steve Scheinkman June 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Interesting to note that they are cutting teachers and no one at SMMUSD head office where the cuts really should be made


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