State to take back millions from school district
The financial hole the Sonoma Valley Unified School District is facing keeps getting deeper.
Because of the state's continuing financial crisis, in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, the district may have to send as much as $6 million to Sacramento. While the final numbers aren't in - and they may not be for some time - the district is probably going to have to send a check for at least $4 million to the state because it's a "basic aid district."
Basic aid means that the district receives all of its money in property taxes and other taxes, as opposed to a revenue-limit district that receives state aid to make up the difference between property taxes and state funding levels. Only about 10 percent of the state's school districts are basic aid districts.
Last year, when the state cut funding levels to revenue limit districts, it demanded a "fair share" from basic aid districts, meaning Sonoma had to kick $1.7 million back to the state. Justin Frese, the district's deputy superintendent, said the district has been told that this year, the fair share is up to 8.92 percent - or about $2.6 million.
At Tuesday night's school board meeting, Frese told the board that in addition to the $2.6 million the district will have to kick back to the state, because of the budget uncertainty there will be more cuts. And Frese said that the district has been advised to expect cuts of at least $349 a student - and possibly as much as $849 a student.
With about 4,200 students, that means the district could have to cut another check for somewhere between $1.46 million at the low end and $3.57 million on the high end.
Wednesday, Frese said the ADA cuts are going to affect all districts.
The difference is that revenue limit districts will have the ADA cut from their state funding while basic aid districts will have to kick a like amount back to the state from their own tax revenues.
"We're all in it together for a new cut," he told the board.
"The numbers get huge," he added. "High-$5 million to $6 million. But we're going to have to wait and see."
Frese assured the board that none of the state cuts will affect this year's budget.
And the $4 million to $6 million loss the district will suffer next fiscal year probably won't be the end of the pain. At this point, Frese said, both the "fair share" and the state cuts will probably continue for more than just one-year .
Frese told the board he hopes to have better numbers in four-to-six weeks when the governor issues his May Budget Revise.
"The state budget continues to look dim," he said. But he said if the cuts are as deep as they could be, he estimates that it would force 300 to 400 school districts into insolvency.
Because of reserves, the district could weather the cuts in the coming fiscal year, but Frese said there would be a likelihood of staff cuts in the 2012-13 fiscal year.