Students could potentially lose as many as seven days in the classroom if revenue projections don’t meet the state lawmakers’ high expectations in the approved budget.
A key part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget to cut the $9.6 million state deficit relies on an additional $4 billion in expected revenue.
If that plan fails, mid-year cuts to public schools will kick in, including a $1.5 billion cut that relies on seven fewer days of instruction. Money for school bus transportation (except that which is federally mandated) will also be eliminated.
Those cuts will be implemented if the state gets only $2 billion of the $4 billion in revenue it is projecting.
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Brown’s proposed budget allows for school districts to cut up to seven teaching days without negotiating that reduction with teachers unions. The reduced instructional time would mean pay cuts for teachers.
County schools Superintendent Julian Crocker said local school districts have already cut so much from their budgets in recent years that there are few options left except to cut teaching costs.
San Luis Obispo County’s 10 school districts have cut about $40 million over the past three years.
The state budget also includes about $2 billion in “deferrals” that could affect school districts that rely on state money instead of local property taxes — such as Paso Robles and Lucia Mar.
The deferrals — in which the state essentially delays making payments of the money it owes to the districts — could lead to cash-flow problems and force school districts to borrow money to pay their bills and payroll, Crocker said.
An additional challenge Crocker expects is that the state will take away money that the county Office of Education uses to loan to local school districts that are having financial difficulty.
If that happens, school districts would need to borrow from the county treasurer or from private lenders.
Paso Robles Public Schools Superintendent Kathy McNamara said the new deferrals would be on top of the state delaying payment for 26 percent of the money it currently owes her district.
She said that shortening the school year is not only a bad idea for students, but she expects that it would lead to legal action by unions.