School budget uncertain for now

Administrators still waiting for details from governor
By: Andrew Westrope, Journal staff writer
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Auburn Union schools’ budget is up in the air until it has more details on the governor’s state budget proposal.
Chief Business Officer Monica Williams described the proposal to the Auburn Union Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on Wednesday, having attended Gov. Jerry Brown’s conference on Tuesday.
“This year, the governor has proposed a change in the funding formula for schools. The 2013-14 budget proposal eliminates revenue limit funding and replaces it with a local control funding formula,” she said. “Unlike last year’s weighted student formula, one of the major things that they’ve worked on this year is making sure that there aren’t winners and losers, like the student formula had last year.”
Under the new proposal, schools would receive a base grant per unit of average daily attendance, along with other funding based on their number of students who are English language learners or eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Williams said the proposal would take seven years to implement if it passes, but the school’s year-over-year funding would not decrease as it did with last year’s weighted student formula. She said all funding would be driven by average daily attendance instead of enrollment, though figuring out exactly what that means for the school’s budget will be a long process.
“The governor’s proposal is very complex and requires an individual base funding calculation for every local education agency for every district and charter school,” she said. “The Department of Education has started to do that, and they anticipate that calculation being completed in approximately two weeks.”
The school has pushed its budget advisory committee meeting to Feb. 19, at which point it will begin its own calculations.
“This is going to be a year when we get to do two budgets, because there’s still the possibility that none of this will happen and we’ll still be on revenue limits in 2013-14,” said Williams. “There’s some talk in the legislature about, ‘This is really a policy and not a budget-driven thing,’ so if the legislature determines it’s a policy-driven item, it will take another year to implement, but it is coming.”
Superintendent Michele Schuetz, who attended the governor’s conference with Williams, was optimistic about the implications of a new funding formula but aware that it would complicate financial planning.
“We’re still waiting to see how we’re funded, and it’s better than it was the last year, but still we’re looking to see what kind of revenue we will having coming in,” she said. “There’s just not enough information yet.”
In other business:
The board discussed several measures to improve student proficiency scores, including additional strategic classes to help struggling students improve reading and note-taking skills.
The school’s annual crisis training session is tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 5.
Food Service Director Diane Brooks presented the board with an overview of the district’s student nutrition program.
The board is considering upgrading the district’s internal computer network with new servers, although it is still gathering professional opinions before committing to the project.