School leaders blame state shortage
Though still waiting for the ax to fall, speculation regarding the trickle-down effect of the state’s budget woes is already taking its toll on the local high school district.
Teachers, students and their parents alarmed over talk of cutting student programs next year packed the Senior Center Monday night to voice concerns over the Nevada Joint Union High School District’s funding priorities.
While district officials stress that the trickle-down affect on local high schools is subject to change, Gray’s proposal could translate into a $1.5 million cut next year and an approximate $600,000 reduction midway through this year.
“We didn’t cause the problem, but we just have to deal with it,” said Julie Hopkins, NJUHSD assistant superintendent of business.
When district officials started planning for this year’s budget last year, they were told they would be working with a surplus, said NJUHSD superintendent Joe Boeckx.
“This budget opened with a reported $1.6 billion surplus and now we’re looking at a $21 to $34 billion deficit,” Boeckx said.
Action Committee members representing teachers from all the district’s high schools were miffed Monday night about raises for high-level administrators and alleged bureaucratic waste while cuts in classrooms appear imminent next year.
Still reeling from California’s energy crisis, coupled with a soft economy, turned a hefty reserve into a deficit projected to grow to $21 to $34 billion by the end of the 2003-04 fiscal year – the state legislature is mulling over Gov. Gray Davis’ proposal to slash $2 billion from education this year alone.
Boeckx said the district is very concerned about the depth of state cuts in education proposed by Gov. Davis.
Prior to making a budget recommendation to the board of trustees this summer, Boeckx said the district will hold several budget sessions with the first session slated for Feb. 19 at Bear River High School.
“We’re looking forward to public input,” Boeckx said.
The district will make a recommendation that ensures a balanced budget, preserves as many student programs as possible, and meets the requirements of Assembly Bill 1200, Boeckx said.
AB 1200 is a state law that gives Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer fiscal oversight responsibility for each district in the county. Under the law, McAteer must certify that the budget is balanced and has adequate reserves 24 months out, Boeckx said.
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