Schools look at tightened budgets

The Laguna Beach Unified School District may need to cut corners in the coming year.

Assistant Supt. of Business Services Norma Shelton and Director Fiscal Services Dean West presented the budget at the March 8 school board meeting.

In a phone call Tuesday, Shelton discussed the implications of the budget and the possibility of losing state money if the state doesn't approve tax extensions in June.

West also discussed the second interim report at the meeting.

LBUSD has a budget of about $40 million, which is mostly accrued though local property taxes. The district is unique in that its state contribution — about $2 million — is less than other districts.

But if the tax extensions don't happen, the district would be completely dependent on local property taxes, which are dwindling because of the economy, school officials said.

Shelton said the district is developing its 2011-12 budget in preparation for that scenario, which will be adopted in June. She said they can't assume the full impact at this point and they are not expecting to have layoffs.

She also revealed that LBUSD receives $95,017 in mandated funds from the state. The state is constitutionally required to provide funds for obligatory tasks and although LBUSD files every year, they have not received funds for two to three years due to the state's budget deficit.

Costs have gone up for the district as well.

The budget for food services increased by $60,000. Shelton said the increase was due to a decision to "go green" and use environmentally friendly packaging, as well as increasing labor costs and food costs. LBUSD makes an effort to offer healthy alternatives and fresh produce, which will increase the cost.

Shelton said they expected an increase, but not necessarily of this magnitude. Some factors weren't anticipated, such as weather, which affected the cost of fuel for delivering products.

Another increased cost is due to a change by Gov. Jerry Brown. The state has shifted the responsibility of mental health services from counties to the school districts. Shelton said it could mean a significant increase in expenditures because they will be required to pay psychiatrists and other mental health providers. They have yet to find out about the financial resources provided by the state.

Assistant Supt. of Instructional Services Nancy Hubbell said Tuesday that four employees were released March 8. Three were temporary employees and one was an employee on probation.

Both Hubbell and Shelton explained that these are not layoffs. Temporary employees are typically released when their time is up and all employees are on probation for the first two years of employment.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World