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Schools budget gets preliminary OK

As the school district’s chief business official likes to put it, the budget has “weathered the storm” of the recession.

Paul Reed, who also serves as Newport-Mesa Unified’s deputy superintendent, on Tuesday presented the district’s balanced, tentative budget for 2013-14, which the board unanimously approved. Trustee David Brooks was absent.


The document, which will go before the board for final approval in August, predicts $233.4 million in expenditures for the next fiscal year — about $6.6 million more than the final numbers from the current fiscal year.

“We remain solvent and moving forward,” Reed said.


He also warned that by 2020, Newport-Mesa will be even more on its own when it comes to receiving funding from outside sources, such as the state or federal government.

Newport-Mesa, a “basic-aid” district, relies on property tax revenue to fill its coffers, though that funding source is expected to increase by 2.8% for each of the next two years.

“Property tax growth is our star,” Reed said.

But given the reality of being reliant on local funding, Reed urged for reserves to be maintained.


“You have nowhere else to go,” he said. “You have to have a reserve level that allows for some flexibility.”

The California lottery continues to have a small effect on the schools’ budgets, Reed said. The system provides $154 to each student but takes up 1.5% of all district funds.

“For folks who think the lottery saved education, it’s not true,” he said.

Regarding district personnel costs, Reed said there will not be cost-of-living adjustments for certificated and classified employees.


Healthcare costs are up 3%. The district’s payments into its two pension funds — California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, and California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS — are largely remaining the same as last year.

“Both of those will increase in future years,” Reed said, “because both of those systems are underfunded.”

District salaries will also be competitive and above the 75th percentile level, he said, which was promised years ago.