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IRVINE : Trustees Vote to Cut Next Year’s Budget

In anticipation of major cuts in state funding, the Irvine Unified School District is ready to trim $3.3 million from the next school year’s budget.

The school board voted unanimously this week to trim next year’s $90-million budget in anticipation of state budget cuts that could reduce public school funding by as much as $2 billion.

The reductions approved by the school board for next year include a 25% cut in athletic programs; a 50% cut in staffing at elementary school libraries and computer laboratories; a 25% cut in science instruction for grades four, five and six; a 15% cut in school supplies and equipment; cutting all non-mandatory school busing; reducing high school guidance counselors; cleaning classrooms only every other day, and several reductions in administration.

Last year, the district cut $2.4 million from its budget.

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With the state reducing its funding for public schools, the Irvine district, like many others in the state, has been dipping into emergency savings. Assuming a worst-case scenario in state funding, cutting $3.3 million from next year’s budget would still force the district to dip into reserves. That would leave emergency savings at only 1% of annual spending, lower than is considered financially prudent.

The state asks school districts to maintain at least a 3% reserve, said Paul H. Reed, the school district’s deputy superintendent for business services.

To help make up for lost state funds, the school board voted in January to ask voters to approve a $35 tax on each parcel of property in the district. The tax, if approved by two-thirds of voters on the June 4 ballot, would raise about $1.4 million each year for four years.

The tax would be used to make up part of the $3.3 million in proposed cuts, Reed said.

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