Tuesday Feb 03 2009
Money problems deepen for Folsom-Cordova school district
By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
Local educators monitoring the moving target of the state cash crisis have now doubled a money total they might have to cut from the budget of Folsom-Cordova Unified School District. “It does appear that the governor and the Democratic leadership have agreed that funding for public education will be reduced by about nine percent, a figure that would require the Folsom Cordova Unified School District to reduce its expenditures by $10.5 million,” Patrick Godwin, superintendent, recently announced. Debbie Bettencourt, deputy superintendent, recently published an analysis of the state money crisis on the district Web site. “The reason the state is running out of cash is not because it does not have a budget, but because it is spending cash much faster than revenues are coming in (and) it anticipates that it will not be able to borrow,” Bettencourt wrote. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and previous governors, the state has become known for “chronic deficit spending,” and the chickens are now coming home to roost, according to Bettencourt. A first round of cuts carved more than $5 million. Doubling that effort could put the district in uncharted waters of attempting to negotiate pay cuts with union officials. Alternatives getting district attention now, according to Bettencourt, include freezes on hiring and spending, layoffs, shortening the school year, furlough days for staff members and salary reductions for educators. Salaries compose some 85 percent of the district’s expenses, the largest line item, according to Sandy Connelly, administrative assistant. In a district-sponsored survey, residents have been full of ideas on how to make the budget goal. A total of 102 suggestions are now recorded. They are all over the board, ranging from trimming some athletic programs to reducing counselor services to pay cuts. Listed first is a suggestion to cut salaries, with a suggested amount of 3 percent. “For now, we will continue to monitor the state budget developments, including the possibility that the state might benefit from federal assistance,” Godwin announced. “Unfortunately, the timelines for taking action to reduce services and costs will force us to prepare for a worst case scenario even while we work for better funding. More advice from the district’s residents is sought at a pair of upcoming public forums, one at Folsom High School Feb. 12. “The (district governing) board will not receive any recommendations about budget reductions until after the public forums,” Godwin announced. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com.