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.