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SLO County Roundup

SLO County

Six local school districts have alerted state education officials that they may not be able to meet their future financial obligations because of California’s budget crisis and reduced funding for public education.

The number of districts having trouble meeting their financial obligations statewide has increased by 38 percent since the beginning of the year, Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, announced this week.

In San Luis Obispo County, the districts are Atascadero Unified, Lucia Mar Unified, Paso Robles Public Schools, Pleasant Valley Joint Union Elementary, San Miguel Joint Union and Shandon Joint Unified.

The districts also alerted the county Office of Education that they might not be able to meet their future obligations, which require the districts to keep a certain percentage — based on their size, between 3 and 5 percent — of expenditures in reserves for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 fiscal years.

More than 20,000 teachers received layoff notices this year, as public education funding came in $17 billion less than anticipated over the past two budget years, according to a news release from O’Connell’s office.

The cuts have resulted in larger class sizes and cuts to sports programs, summer school, art and music programs, libraries and school nurses.

The full list of schools is available at http://sn.im/schoolreserves.

— Cynthia Lambert

San Luis Obispo

A new law that bans smoking from nearly all public places in San Luis Obispo has gone into effect.

Under the new law, smoking is prohibited in indoor and outdoor areas frequented by the public, including sidewalks, parking garages, bars, restaurants, stores, stadiums, playgrounds and transit centers.

Lighting up outdoors is also banned within 20 feet of indoor areas. Exceptions include private residential units and designated hotel rooms, existing tobacco retailers, and outdoor areas in which no nonsmoker is present. Bars that don’t serve food may designate a smoking area at least 5 feet from a doorway.

A grace period allowing businesses and other entities to come into compliance ended June 30.

The city worked with the Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce to distribute educational brochures and window decals declaring the new law to downtown businesses, said Brigitte Elke, the city’s principal administrative analyst.

The City Council approved the new law in April, following a vote in December to ban smoking in Mission Plaza, the downtown creek area and the city’s parks.

Police will not actively enforce the smoking ban but may issue citations for violations, which start at $100. The fine increases to $200 on the second offense and $500 for multiple violations within a 12-month period.

— AnnMarie Cornejo

Cambria

The Cambria State Marine Conservation Area may get a new name and classification, if the State Park and Recreation Commission agrees with advice given by the state Fish and Game Commission and a group of local stakeholders.

The proposal is to reclassify the marine conservation area as a marine park.

According to State Parks officials, the proposed change likely won’t make any difference to people recreating in the conservation area, which runs about a half-mile offshore from the southern boundary of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria to just north of San Simeon Acres. Recreational uses, including fishing, would still be allowed, and commercial fishing would still be banned.

State Parks will host a public workshop on the proposed reclassification at 7 p.m. today at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., Cambria.

The Fish and Game Commission designated the conservation area in 2007 but noted at the time that it might be a prime candidate for such a park.

For more information, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/ mlpa, or call Kevin Fleming at 916-651-6940 or e-mail him at kfleming@ parks.ca.gov. Fleming is also taking comments and suggestions for the park’s name.

— Kathe Tanner

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