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School district receives happy news

State gives unexpected half a million dollars
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The school district received half a million dollars more from the state than expected to fund expenses, including salaries for teachers and staff. That’s according to a presentation given during Tuesday night’s school board meeting by school district Assistant Superintendent of business Joyce Lopes. The district anticipated less money from the state per student than was actually received, according to Lopes. She said the district “projected half a million less than received.” The state projected in May that California’s school districts would receive funding of $4,968 per student, according to Lopes. According to the state’s final budget, which Lopes said was adopted last week, the revenue limit per student is $5,239, which is $271 more than projected by the district. The money received from the state funds expenses such as salaries and benefits for teachers and classified staff. “We appreciate it. We’re just concerned that the economy isn’t recovering,” Lopes said. Lopes is concerned what revenues will look like for the next few years. “We are cautiously optimistic about the increase,” Lopes said. School board member Paul Carras noted that he had noticed a 50 student drop for the whole district since school has started and asked if that’s normal. According to the school-district agenda packet, student enrollment as of Sept. 1 was 6,609, and dropped to 6,552 as of Oct. 5. “It’s not unusual to see a decline in the course of the second semester but it impacts revenue projections,” Carras said. “Have you looked at how it’s declined in the past?” School district’s receive funding from the state based on the number of students enrolled, according to Lopes. “You can tell in two weeks if a 50 student drop is typical because we have students that don’t attend every day or is abnormal,” Lopes said. “In the state budget, we are now funded at $5,200, which gives us an estimated revenue limit of $32.5 million.” Enrollment in the school district is projected to increase by 2 percent in 2011-2012 and by 3 percent in 2012-2013. “One factor is there are a huge amount of repossessed homes being rented out and they are bringing students back in,” board member Paul Long said. Lopes asked that the board “provide direction for targeting reductions for the next two years,” and will provide information to the school board about revenue assumptions for district’s budget next fiscal year, and also “what’s happening with ADA and enrollment, how expenditures will change.” “We have been fortunate to date because of Basic Aid funding; we’ve been able to stay afloat. Other districts have not had that luxury,” Carras said. “Looking at potential reductions will be helpful to see what other districts have done for cuts over the last three years.” Districts receive Basic Aid funds “when the district’s property taxes exceed the district’s revenue limit,” according to Lopes. Board member Terry Gage agreed with Carras and added that there “may be some least intrusive things that can be done and creative things we can learn from.” Measure J signs, GEMS fire discussed School district Superintendent Scott Leaman told the school board Tuesday that signs have been posted at each school site related to Measure J. Measure J is a $163 million school bond placed on the November ballot by the school board, and will be used to fund improvements to existing schools in Lincoln, as well as build two new ones, according to previous News Messenger reports. If Measure J passes, the amount residents would be taxed is limited to $60 for every $100,000 of assessed property value per year, according to previous News Messenger reports. Cathy Allen, the school district’s assistant superintendent of facilities and maintenance services, said the signs were donated. “It’s part of getting information down to the site level (to residents),” Leaman said. “The signs delineate items at each site.” The items Leaman referred to are individual site improvements that would be funded by Measure J, if approved by voters. The News Messenger asked Leaman if the signs could be considered advocation for the bond since district employees aren’t allowed to advocate for or against Measure J on work time. “It’s informational because it doesn’t ask the public to vote in a certain way; it just has a list of projects,” Leaman said. During the reports and communication portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Western Placer Teachers’ Association president Mike Agrippino and Leaman spoke about the Oct. 10 fire at Glen Edwards Middle School. The fire destroyed one classroom, damaged two other classrooms and a storage shed at the school, according to previous News Messenger reports. “We are working closely with the police department. There is an active investigation going on,” Leaman said. Leaman said those with information can submit anonymous tips through wetip.com or by calling (800) 782-7463. “As president of the teachers’ association and a member of the staff, I just have to thank everyone in the community, teachers at other schools. The outpouring of support has been incredible,” Agrippino said. Leaman said there has been a district staff member on site since the fire to assist the staff and “check in.” “If you walk around GEMS, they’re not morose or sad. Education is going on, the kids are having a good time and the teachers are pushing on,” Leaman said.