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District leaders to present more grim budget news

Submitted by on 1, December 14, 2010 – 12:03 amNo Comment

District officials are set to paint a grim portrait of Alameda Unified’s finances for the years to come on Tuesday night as they present interim budget projections and a proposal to shutter four schools over the next two years if things don’t improve.

The school board will be asked to approve a plan tonight that would close Wood Middle School in 2011 and send students who would have attended there to a 7-12 school on the Encinal High School campus. The plan, which would save the district an estimated $3.37 million over two years, also calls for closing Franklin, Otis and Washington elementary schools and turning the rest of the main Island’s elementary schools into K-6 schools, while Lincoln Middle School and Bay Farm and Amelia Earhart elementary schools would serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

In addition to the school closures and consolidations, the school board would also be asked to consider raising K-3 class sizes to 32 students and high school classes to 35 students per teacher, along with a list of cuts that include adding teacher furlough days and reducing salaries, trimming high school graduation requirements, and eliminating a host of programs, including adult school; elementary school physical education, media center and music; and the seven-period day at Alameda’s middle schools. The cuts would be made in order to save $4.5 million in 2011-2012 and $12.6 million in 2012-2013 if the district doesn’t get additional funds.

The board voted on November 30 to put a parcel tax proposal before voters in March 8, 2011 that would put an estimated $12.3 million a year into the district’s coffers for each of the next seven years. The tax would replace and increase the amount collected under the district’s existing parcel taxes, both of which sunset in 2012.

The state’s leaders restored money they took from the district’s budget in 2009, and Alameda Unified has received about $1.6 million from the federal government to maintain jobs. But the state is also set to take away money for mental health services the district is legally bound to provide, and state leaders announced that California is facing a $25 billion deficit this year and next year.

The district is on track to spend about $6.6 million more than district officials believe they’ll take in revenue, budget projections show – money that will come out of the district’s $14.2 million fund balance.

The board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. Staff presentations are available on the district’s website.

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