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K-8 School Budget Cuts May Hinge on November Tax Measures

The district's financial future is put on pause, preparing for a worst case scenario 160 day school year.

Bleak financial news dominated talks at the board meeting Wednesday night, as administrators described the difficulties of managing the district's funds amidst the murky status of the state budget.

Chief Business Official Raul Parungao did his best to translate the myriad of issues congesting the state budget negotiations and forecast a variety of scenarios that may result in possible outcomes.

Much of the state's fiscal health hinges on the attempt by Governor Jerry Brown to float a tax measure to voters in the November elections, he said.

Early projections indicated that a proposed half-cent sales tax increase and 2 percent tax hike on the state's highest earners could bring in near $7 billion, which would take a significant chunk out of state's current $9 billion deficit.

But recently, the state's finance office corrected those assumptions, and predicted that the successful tax measures would only raise about $4.9 billion, and that $2.2 billion of that amount would be needed to fulfill payment deferrals from previous years.

That announcement was concurrent with projections that the state's overall deficit may grow to $13 billion in the coming years.

Gov. Brown in the past has from budget cuts, but as the state's budget struggles become increasingly severe, that stance has become harder to defend.

Under a worst case scenario, it currently appears possible that the state school calendar could be carved down by 15 days to 160 days of instruction, said Parungao.

The brass tacks to the local school district is that as the state continues to formulate its budget strategy, administrators are forced to sit and wait before they can begin to manage their finances.

"It is hard to start developing a budget for money that we don't have," said Parungao.

School board member Dennis McBride also noted that the district would not be able to negotiate new contracts with its employee bargaining units until the budget picture is more definite.

But should the financial status of the state remain in dire straits, the district will need to begin prioritizing which programs it can afford, and which ones are in jeopardy.

According to Superintendent Jan Christensen, the district has already begun notifying parents of students in the trans-kindergarten program that the future of the program is uncertain.

State funding for the program is on the chopping block, and the district would not be able to pay for the program out of its general fund, she said.

With an eye to the future, the district has allowed parents to enroll their children in the program, with the understanding that there is still a high degree of uncertainty regarding whether it will be in existence much longer, said Christensen.

"It is just a terible thing to do to the parents and their children," she said.

But ultimately, with such a variety of possibilities still up in air at the state level, the district will remain in wait-and-see mode until more of the important questions are answered.

"It is hard for us to determine how this will impact Redwood City," said Parungao.

 

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Natalie Scoma January 15, 2012 at 04:33 AM
There's a reason why there is no money for RWC SD. The State is spending too much on entitlement programs and RWC residents have too many families who are on those programs and care less about a parcel tax or any have the funds to contribute even if they want to. I am not against the poor here, just reality. RWC SD administrators quit your griping and comparing yourself with other "richer" districts. The taxpayers in those districts pay their share and there's a reason why they have a tad more funding than you. They pay alot to be living there.
John Foley January 20, 2012 at 07:24 AM
Ms. Natalie gets it! I know the inner workings of the district. The waste is appalling---bloated administrative staff salaries need to be cut including personnel. The game of loading some classes with discipline problems in order to then write up the teacher---must stop! So much has been swept under the rug-----no parcel TAX should be supported.
Natalie Scoma January 29, 2012 at 09:47 AM
Mr. John gets it! He knows te inner workings....hey you should speak up and get the info to the State. No forget that, they board of education are out of touch with reality. Just keep share it with voters because the system is rigged to keep below average people sucking on the easy dollars. You know who pays those taxes???? Spreading the wealth only works if the tax payers have no options but we do and you will see cuts coming. Have fun with your pathetic jobs.
Georgia Jack January 29, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Just to point out a key fact: the "richer" districts are not just "paying their share" the state allows them to keep their property tax dollars to fund their schools. Redwood City does not generate enough property tax dollars to become what is called a "basic aid district" and instead gets funding on a per-student basis calculated by average daily attendance. And, the basic aid districts also tax themselves via a parcel tax to add to their bottom line of what is available to spend on their schools. Learn more about the two funding types at http://www.rcef.org/materials/publications/Overview0106.pdf

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