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$30-Million Hole 'Best-Case Scenario' for Capistrano School District

Red ink could grow to $50 million, school district officials say.

A $30-million shortfall is the “best-case scenario” for the Capo Unified School District next year, according to a report presented Monday night.

The worst case is $50 million in red ink for 2012-13, said interim Deputy Superintendent Robyn Phillips, speaking before the CUSD school board.

“In order to balance our budget for next year, the district will need to reduce expenditures by 10 to 15 cents of every dollar we spend,” Phillips said. “We can’t pretend that we can avoid any impact, [but] we can look at ways to do it as sensitively as we can.”

CUSD's curent overall budget is about $340 million, according to Phillips.

Phillips said if voters don't approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed temporary tax increases in November, the shortfall will grow to $48 million.

And, Phillips added, the number could reach $50 million if a proposed cut to transportation funding is replaced by a “revenue limit reduction.”

“In school budgeting, things can change, and we know that things will change,” Phillips said. 

Although cuts in state funding are the main reason for the expected shortfall, Phillips said, the end of federal stimulus money and declining enrollment are also factors.

The average daily attendance at CUSD has dropped by 1,590 since 2010-11, which translates to a loss of $8.3 million.

The district has also come to the end of $45 million in federal stimulus money, including $12 million spent this year. 

(To see the Phillips' full PowerPoint presentation, click here and scroll to page 12.)

In the wake of continuing budget cuts, the district has already eliminated jobs, increased class sizes, reduced bus routes and instituted furlough days.

Next year's shortfall will mean more of the same, Phillips said.

To balance the budget, district staff has proposed postponing plans for a transitional kindergarten program, offering retirement incentives, and putting a freeze on new hires and spending for all nonessential jobs and purchases.

Optional cuts on the table include increasing class sizes for grades K-12, additional furlough days and additional pay cuts.

“This is a no-win situation,” said school board President Gary Pritchard. “It seems like at every turn Sacramento’s budget just keeps cutting our legs out from under us.”

“We look forward to the day when we actually can start building a program, [when] we have enough funds and revenue,” Pritchard said.

Other Business

  • Officials approved a redistricting map that changes the areas from which the school board's seven trustees are elected. In a 5-2 vote, the board chose Map J, which divides San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel into three sections and cuts Mission Viejo, Dana Point and San Clemente in two, but keeps Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita intact. During the discussion, Lynn Hatton proposed moving Tesoro High School from District 2 to District 7. Her motion carried and the new map passed 5-2, with trustees Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo dissenting. To view the new map (minus the addition of Tesoro High School to district 7), click here.
  • Between 30 to 50 people attended to support Eric Patton, a San Clemente High School football coach who was placed on administrative leave Aug. 15 following accusations of a kickback scheme involving an athletic supply company. A similar show of support took place Sept 13.
Pam Sunderman February 19, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Capo parent, How far back are you willing to go to back up your insistence that the current crisis in CUSD is not about the economic downturn IN THE ENTIRE WORLD? And just for clarification...pensions cannot be reformed at the local level...no matter who the trustees are.
shelly February 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM
cusd mom, Why is it realistic to ask every teacher to give up 15% or more of their income and not expect others to contribute? I understand that it would be easier to get the teachers to take the cut and take the blame rather than ask people to step up. I get this because there are people like you and others on this blog who say they will not help because they feel like they have helped enough but I feel like there are also people like me who would be willing to help. I am a real and others like me are real. Mellos roos were used for the new high school and still are. And if the new high school was not build or the k=8 not expanded where would the 2000 kids in SJHHS have gone or the kids at the k-8 have gone? They would have impacted other schools. So you prefer we have bigger middle schoolsand high schools that are added on to then build then to build other schools? I understand that you did not agree with the k-8 in your neighborhood or SJHHS but they are here now and kids are utilizing them. La pata was supposed to go through and still will (eventually) and so many kids from forestor and talega will eventually choose sjhhs as an option. I voted against sjhhs when it came up to vote in san Juan. The voters in San Juan turned it down but the school district at the time went through with it. It is a crummy location but a great school.
shelly February 19, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Capo Mom, So happy that you are kind a lot and I understand that it is easier to insult than to have a discussion.
Capo Parent February 19, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Shelly Reality is a hard concept for you. At some point Brick was a reform trustee. However, since the new board has come into power and his mental issues have worsened, he has voted yes to every pro union proposal. He votes as he is told. That was made abundantly clear at the Mardh16, 2011 meeting. Anna Bryson is a loose cannon, she was a mistake from the beginning. She will vote in the manner that best serve her self-interests, case in point, Map J. She wanted DHHS in her area even though that would screwup the proposed boundaries for all the other areas. I'm all in favor of breaking up CUSD. It's dysfunctional, poorly run and has bad karma. Actually, CUSD & SVUSD should be combined and school attendance areas redrawn. As for your repeated claim that everyone should work together, that'a pipe dream. CUSD had reduced revenue, and the unions want as much of it as they can get (that's their job, I get it, you don't), but that conflict's with trying to put as much money in nonteaching services & needs such as programs, equipment, maintenance, repairs, etc.
shelly February 20, 2012 at 01:56 AM
capo parent, Brick ran and won as a reform candidate. Bryson ran with Addonizio and won as a reform candidate and against the union endorsed candidate twice so when people say we have a union board it is a fallacy. We have mixed board. I did not vote for either Brick or Bryson so I have no need to defend them. I did not elect them. Who do you think implements the programs? Teachers. Equipment, buildings whatever will be worthless if you do not have teachers. When people quote the 90% number of the budget going to salary and benefits only a little over 60% of that goes to teachers. Administrators, maintenance employess, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, etc. are included in that 90%. I agree our district is much too big but it is what we have currently. I am suggesting that if you expect teachers and other employees to do their part by taking cuts then parents and the public should do theirs and help if they want the same benefits of our education system.

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