More School Districts Plan Painful Budgets

Ten school districts statewide received negative financial certifications last year, meaning they could not meet their financial obligations. The year before, eight districts received negative certifications. Most are large urban school districts. Recent headlines depict no fiscal relief in sight and a worsening crisis that is forcing deep budget cuts at districts throughout the state. • The Los Angeles Unified School District recently approved a plan that would eliminate dozens of teaching, clerical and other positions to help close a $168 million shortfall in its 2005-06 budget. • San Diego City Schools have cut more than $150 million during the past three years because of dwindling state funding and declining enrollment. Jobs eliminated include landscaping, clerical and nursing positions. Counseling staff has been reduced by 39 full-time equivalent positions. Schools also cut 13 full-time equivalent librarian positions. Three of the district's neediest high schools do not have librarians. The district's landscaping staff has been reduced from 132 gardeners down to 35. • The Santa Ana Unified School District is considering increased class sizes in primary grades. Santa Ana district has struggled through three years of funding cuts in programs and staff. To help close a $29-million budget shortfall this year, Santa Ana's teachers agreed to a 4 percent pay cut. • The San Juan Unified School District, facing a $20 million shortfall next year, has been threatened with takeover by Sacramento County and the state. Proposed cuts include athletic programs and nearly all middle and high school counselors. In anticipation of 1,500 fewer students next year, 60 teachers could be cut. San Juan also is considering eliminating the jobs of 26 vice principals, three principals, and several librarians and nurses. San Juan could have a single principal responsible for several campuses. Plans also include a 50 percent increase in class size for all kindergarten through third grade classes. The district is considering closing three elementary schools by fall and 13 schools over the next three years. Health care costs are projected to rise 16 percent next year and 20 percent the following year. • The Fresno Unified School District faces a deficit of at least $35 million, a crisis that could lead to a state takeover if Fresno doesn't fix its financial problems. • In the Orange Unified School District, music classes in the primary grades will likely be cut, and class size reduction will be eliminated. • Capistrano Unified and Fountain Valley school districts will raise money by selling land, after years of deficit spending by both districts. • The Escondido Union High School District recently announced plans to increase class sizes next year. • The San Pasqual Union School District has managed cuts by not replacing teachers who leave, resulting in larger classes. • Oceanside Unified School District, anticipating about $5 million in budget cuts over the next two years, has drafted a list of programs and positions that could be eliminated. Among the options are reducing campus security, cutting teachers’ aides, increasing class sizes and closing schools with fewer than 500 students. At the same time, a report showed that the school district’s employee medical benefits have soared, rising 250 percent in five years. • The Ukiah Unified School District has proposed the elimination of 12 teaching positions as the result of declining enrollment and the state budget crisis.