Lucia Mar Unified School District needs to trim budget by $5M

Lucia Mar Unified School District officials are looking for ways to close a $5 million budget gap for the next school year.

District officials have started planning for that shortfall — significantly less than the $9 million they cut last year — in the 2010-11 budget.

“Obviously, you need to look at everything in your budget, but when you need to come up with $5 million, you’re looking at salary reductions, health care, layoffs,” Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said.

He noted that 92 percent of the district’s expenditures are personnel-related costs. The district has a $57 million general fund this year.

A budget review committee began meeting earlier this month to discuss options to reduce the district’s expenses. Layoff notices must be issued by the state statutory deadline of March 15.

The board on Tuesday voted unanimously to notify two Lucia Mar administrative employees that their positions may change.

Charlissa Boaz-Skinner, principal of Lucia Mar Adult Education and a former kindergarten teacher at Nipomo Elementary School, said she may take on some additional responsibilities in addition to serving as the principal.

“(From) what I’ve heard so far with this budget crisis, everything is subject to change, so I’m going to try to stay optimistic,” she said.

The other change on Tuesday would affect Mike Miller, currently coordinator of the district’s at-risk programs. It was not clear Tuesday how his position will change.

The district last year was able to add about $3.7 million in one-time federal money to its budget to help close the $9 million gap. It still has about $1.2 million of that money left, which has to be used by September 2011.

However, the district also faces declining enrollment. This year’s enrollment has dropped about 70 students from last year, reducing the Average Daily Attendance funding the district receives from the state.

Last spring, 220 Lucia Mar teachers were given layoff notices. The district ultimately laid off 90 teachers, but reinstated about 30 of them.

Cynthia Lambert covers South County for The Tribune. Reach her at 781-7929. Stay connected on Twitter by following @SouthCountyBeat.