School District Shrinks Deficit Projections

After a series of cost-cutting measures and commitments from Kiddo! and the PTA for increased fundraising, district projects an improving financial forecast but its future still depends on passage of parcel tax, officials say.

On the heels of a new agreement with its classified employees, officials say they’ve to both improve the district’s finances and present a united front to voters in advance of the pivotal Nov. 6 election featuring a on top of the existing $731 parcel tax.

District Superintendent Paul Johnson said last week that they’ve reached an agreement with approximately 150 employees to have two unpaid furlough days next year, saving the district $38,268.

That deal, coupled with the more than $360,000 the district expects to save through , a , which includes funding for physical education for the first time, and a commitment of $194,000 toward materials and supplies from the Mill Valley Council of PTAs, the district had made headway on reducing its budget deficit over the next three years, Johnson told the school board last week.

The series of moves, all under what the district has dubbed a “shared sacrifice” strategy, have reduced the district’s projected more than $1.4 million budget deficit for 2012-2013 to $684,186. The projected $1.5 million and $2.3 budget deficit for the following two years, respectively, has been cut to $1.3 million and $975,130, according to district projections.

The cuts and increased private funding is meant to show voters – approximately 82 percent of whom don’t have a student in one of the district’s six schools – that all parts of the district community has done what they can to address the deficit.

The hopes to make its case around a central message: given consistent and ongoing funding “take-backs” by the state, a parcel tax is the best way to ensure local control, avoid cuts to core educational programs and retain quality teachers.

Michele Rollins, assistant superintendent for business operations. Said that many factors still could change the district’s current budget deficit projections, and the district will be hiring nine teachers for the upcoming year to accommodate , and will continue to do in the following years.

Despite the recent gains, Johnson noted that the failure of the parcel tax ballot measure in November could mean teacher layoffs and a “significant increase in class sizes” to 30-plus students per teacher in some cases. District officials have said in the past they’d try to get a parcel tax passed in a subsequent special election if it fails in November. The new tax is expected to raise $1.96 million in annual revenue for the district.


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