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Budget Approved, District Faces Deficit
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The Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees approved the 2010-2011 proposed budget at the regular June meeting. Trustee Mike Tozzi was absent.

District Assistant Superintendent for Business Tim Hern said that the district is continuing to deficit spend, but obviously cannot continue on that path. He said that the district is required by the state to have a three-year budget.

Hern said that the district currently has a 14 percent reserve; however, that is from the federal economic stimulus and the district is spending it down. He said those monies will be exhausted by the end of this school year. The stimulus money also funded $1.2 million in salaries, he added. The reserves are projected to go down to seven percent in the year 2011-2012, and then would be below zero — or in the negative — by 2012-2013.

Hern said that the budget is based on the governor’s May revision to the state budget, though it could change. For 2010-2011, Hern reported that the district will have deficit spending at $1.32 million and an ending balance in reserve of $5.64 million at the end of 2011. For 2011-2012, he reported that the district would have deficit spending at $2.81 million and an ending balance of $2.85 million in reserve. For 2012-2013, the district would have deficit spending of $3.4 million and would have an ending balance of negative (-) $552,000.

Hern said that the district is looking for a reduction of $3.4 million in expenditures over the next three years in order to avoid a “qualified” or “negative” rating, which also means that it must maintain at least a three percent reserve. Hern explained that “qualified” means that a district may not be able to meet financial obligations, while “negative” means that it will not be able to meet financial obligations.

Hern said that the district will have its first interim budget report in December 2010 and it must have a plan in place by then with information about reductions in expenditures to show to the county Office of Education. He added that this scenario is also the case for a lot of other districts throughout the state. He noted that within the county, Ceres and Turlock school districts are making large cuts now and the Salida school district has been struggling.

Hern said that the board is ready and prepared to go forth and perform their fiduciary responsibilities. He said that adjustments must be made because on year-three of the proposed budget the district would be in serious financial trouble if things were kept status quo.

The next regular meeting of the OJUSD Board of Trustees will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 12 at Oakdale City Council Chambers, 277 No. Second.