School board passes $235-million final budget [Corrected]


COSTA MESA —The Newport-Mesa Unified school board Tuesday night approved a final budget that uses $11 million in reserves so the district can remain solvent.

The trustees unanimously approved the district’s 2011-12, $235-million final budget, with Trustee Dana Black absent. The budget borrows from reserves to get by, but a district official warned that the state could force Newport-Mesa Unified to dip further into its savings later on.

An earlier version incorrectly stated the dollar amount of Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s 2011-12 budget was incorrectly stated. The correct amount is $235 million.

“That’s the only way we’re going to get through his,” said Deputy Supt. and Chief Business Official Paul Reed.

School districts are watching the state budget to see if California collects $4 billion in new revenues that have been budgeted. If that money doesn’t appear, the districts will face midyear cuts.

Newport-Mesa could lose $6.7 million from a $260-per-student cut and $1.1 million in transportation funding, Reed said.

The cuts would force the district to rely even more heavily on its reserves, but it would still be able to balance its budget, Reed said.

Nearly 85%, or $198.8 million, of the budget consists of employee salaries and benefits.

The two categories of employees for a second year will not receive cost-of-living increases, according to budget documents.

Teacher, supervisor and administrator salaries are budgeted at nearly $102.7 million, and $43.7 million has been allocated for classified employees, a category that includes instructional aides, nurses and nutrition service workers.

Employee benefits make up about 22% of the budget, and although employees began contributing toward their benefits last year, district costs have increased.

Trustee Katrina Foley made a motion to cut the board’s budget by allocating the board’s conference and travel fund to instead help the four high schools in their arts and sciences.

The district has $50,500 allocated for travel and conferences, with $28,000 specifically allocated between the seven trustees for conferences, events and training.

“The budget for the board is extremely big,” Foley said, later adding “in lean times, we should be directing all of our resources to student supplies, programming and resources.”

The motion died on the floor. The only one to speak about the motion was Trustee Judy Franco.

“Sorry, I won’t do it,” she said.