Schools brace for cuts |

Schools brace for cuts

The state’s budget deficit might mean a 4 percent cut to the state’s public schools, the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates.

For Nevada County high school teachers, coaches and librarians, that meant a request to keep spending down for all but essential supplies.

Julie Hopkins, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, sent a memo to Nevada Joint Union High School District employees Dec. 2, notifying them that a special legislative session the governor called this month may result in cutting public schools’ budget by $1.9 billion.

“Only purchases essential to the continuing operations of our programs will be approved,” Hopkins wrote.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California’s schools receive 57 percent of their money from the state. Local property taxes contribute 31 percent of schools’ income and the federal government another 12 percent, the office’s Web site reports.

The high school district has a little over 100 fewer students this year than last, which means less money to the schools. Districts receive money from the state based on their average daily attendance, which is $4,066 per student. The anticipated cut to education might mean about $400,000 or $300 per student a year, she said.

“The state has a serious budget deficit and we are part of the state,” said Joe Boeckx, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District, which includes the county’s four high schools. “What we did was a prudent thing: We stopped spending.”

The 2003-04 budget faces a cumulative year-end deficit of $21.1 billion, the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office reports on its Web site.

Boeckx said the district “must spend money every day” to keep programs in operation, but teachers are asked to help with the “precautionary slowing of spending.”

Nevada Union’s library budget was cut 27 percent in the last year, from $8,500 to $6,300, said Amy Linden, the school’s library media teacher.

The Public School Library Act of 1998 provided $28.41 per student to buy books and electronic databases “that kids use for research now,” Linden said.

For this school, that was a considerable amount of money,” Linden said.

This year, that source was cut down to a little over $5 per student.

“The word is next year there’ll be none,” Linden said.

Cuts will be felt more in a few years, she said. “It’s going to really effect kids in grade school now,” Linden said.

John Halverson, superintendent of Nevada City School District, said school officials across the state were concerned, but that his district would “wait and see what happens in December and January and then make adjustments.” “Everyone’s wondering,” Halverson said.

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