Tahoe-Truckee school district budget on track | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee school district budget on track

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District is preparing for an on-time budget now that state lawmakers have hashed out major spending compromises.

Preliminary estimates reflect a healthy budget this year for Tahoe Truckee Unified, but that’s not to say that things won’t change because of factors like vetoes from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or local teacher contract negotiations, said Ralph Johnson, assistant superintendent of business for the school district.

“I’m not going to make any formal budget adjustments before the governor makes his,” Johnson said.

The governor has a July 1 deadline by which to sign the budget, after that Johnson and the school board will have 45 days in which to make adjustments.

“The board has discussed reinstating some of the cuts made in the past three years, and they have an idea of priority for new funding, but I haven’t been directed to finalize any of those yet,” Johnson said.

Now that adjustments to the state educational budget have been made by a legislative conference committee, a final agreement includes compromises on major spending issues related to K-12 education, according to a release by the California Association of School Business Officials. That includes how to spend roughly $2 billion in new, one-time dollars and remaining ongoing dollars not yet budgeted.

That means more money could be coming to local students.

The conference committee is charged with resolving budget issues where the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget differ, but K-12 funding decisions ratified earlier by both houses remain as part of the budget agreement, including a 5.92 percent cost of living adjustment, a one-time reimbursement of $959 million for prior-year mandates and ongoing funding of $133.6 million for current mandates.

“They haven’t funded any of these things since 2003, so now they are playing catch up,” Johnson said.

Possibly the biggest news is the budget committee’s compromise regarding the one-time Discretionary Block Grant supported in differing versions by both houses. The committee approved $1.15 billion for that purpose.

The conferees voted to distribute the one-time funds based on 2006-07 enrollment, including adult education and regional occupational programming, requiring that 75 percent of the funds go to school sites, and only 25 percent go to the district level.

There are about 6 million students enrolled in California’s public schools, which means about $190 should go to each student, Johnson said, a significant amount of money for the district.