Way back when the state thought it had a balanced budget - just several months ago - Pomona Unified business officials projected the district would be short about $36 million for the 2010-11 school year. Now, just months after approving a new state budget, lawmakers in Sacramento are facing another $21 billion deficit, and school district officials and members of the Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee are bracing for even deeper cuts.
The committee, composed of parents, students, union representatives, principals, and members of the greater community, including local clergy, met for the third time recently and learned how school districts have to try to hit a continually moving target when trying to balance their budgets based on what's happening in Sacramento.
"We have to assume that as the state tries to close this new $21 billion hole, public education is in for another round of cuts," said Superintendent Richard Martinez. "We just have no idea how deep they'll be. We can only work from past experience, and that tells us that for every billion the state cuts, it translates to about a million dollars in cuts for PUSD."
For the time being, however, until state lawmakers and the Governor propose new cuts, the district will continue to consider its budget-reduction options based on the $36 million figure.
The solution, the committee was told, will probably have to include a combination of negotiated reductions to overall employee compensation, and reduction or elimination of programs. In addition, the district must maximize efficiencies with its remaining resources, for example by cutting its utility use by as much as 10 percent in the coming year and beyond.
The committee was given a detailed list of programs that potentially could be reduced or eliminated. It is the committee's task to study the programs and come together again on Dec. 14 to make recommendations to the superintendent. Those recommendations will be weighed along with the results of union negotiations and cost-savings efforts including the attractive Early Retirement Incentive offered this fall.