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Alameda Unified budget outlook: Grim, grim, grim

Submitted by on 1, June 8, 2010 – 4:50 am4 Comments

Alameda Unified staff are set to paint a grim picture of the district’s fiscal outlook at tonight’s Board of Education meeting, laying out a series of cuts they will have to make over the next two school years if their cash flow doesn’t improve.

District leaders are set to offer an update on Alameda Unified’s finances that shows a nearly $9 million gap between what the district is expected to spend this year and the money they anticipate they’ll take in from state, federal and local sources. At this point, they anticipate taking $9.1 million from the district’s savings to balance their budget this year, after seeing a state funding drop of more than $8 million.

The district is already planning to increase K-3 and ninth grade class sizes for the 2010-11 school year regardless of whether voters approve the Measure E parcel tax, which would replace the district’s existing taxes with one that would raise far more money. Without the tax, they expect to furlough teachers for eight days (including five school days) for a savings of $2.5 million and make a host of other cuts in order to balance their budget next year.

District officials expect to have about $8 million less in 2010-11 than they had this year, based on an anticipated drop in federal revenue and reductions outlined in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most recent state budget proposal, if Measure E doesn’t pass. Without the parcel tax or some other, similar revenue increase, they are anticipating a budget deficit of $7 million for 2010-2011 that would grow to an estimated $16.2 million in 2012-2013, when the district’s existing parcel taxes expire.

District officials have also laid out another $6 million in cuts to precede the 2011-2012 school year that include K-3 class size increases to 32 students per teacher; additional furlough days; elimination of physical education, music and media “prep” teachers; and school closures.

Shutting four elementary schools, a middle school and a high school would save the district an estimated $2.9 million. Increasing K-3 class sizes to 32 would save $1.7 million; eliminating “prep” teachers, $796,000; and furloughing teachers for an additional two days, $640,000.

Separately, the board will consider approval of a school calendar for 2010-2011 with five fewer school days on it and hear initial proposals for a potential new magnet school.

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