How low will it go? School funding still in limbo

By From page A1 | January 20, 2012

The El Dorado County Office of Education is still waiting to hear from the state regarding what cuts to expect in education funding for the next fiscal year.

The Department of Finance has predicted General Fund revenues of about $2.2 billion below the figures adopted in the state budget. That means that a total of $980.8 million in mid-year cuts will take place affecting the University of California, CSU, child care, and libraries among other public services.

For K-12 education, El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools Vicki Barber said that there are three areas where they could experience cuts. The area of greatest concern is cuts to school transportation. Statewide cuts could amount to $248 million with $2.9 million in cuts applied to El Dorado County. This is a disproportionate burden on this county, said Barber, because children in this county are dispersed over such a large area. She and other school officials are advocating for a more equal distribution of funding cuts.

In addtion, the state may make another $79.6 million in statewide cuts to revenue limit funding, which would be an additional $364,000 in cuts to El Dorado County.

Last would be reductions in child development programs. However, Barber said she has no estimate on what the reduction in funding might be for those programs.

Gov. Brown has proposed a ballot measure to raise more taxes. In the meantime, Barber and district superintendents will have to come up with a new budget for the 2012-2013 school year without knowing if the ballot measure will pass or not.

The state Legislature has until the end of January to come up with a plan before the trigger cuts go into effect.

Dawn Hodson

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