An Irvine Unified School District publication February 12, 2008
Q&A: Will the state budget crisis shortchange our schools?
ou don’t have to be workshops are likely to be the ar-
a credentialed math eas most impacted by the freeze.
teacher to under- Q: How will budget cuts affect
stand that the state’s the Irvine Unified School Dis-
multibillion-dollar budget deficit trict?
could add up to devastating cuts A: It’s important to remember
to education. that we’re addressing two fronts:
In fact, with the Governor call- There’s the budget freeze, which
ing for across-the-board reduc- temporarily suspended all non-
tions of 10 percent, California’s essential expenditures for the cur-
schools are poised to lose as much rent 2007-08 school year; and
as $4.8 billion in 2008-09. there’s the development of a new
In the Irvine Unified School budget for 2008-09, which will
District alone, the Governor’s mented in January following the include spending cuts.
proposal could amount to a loss of Governor’s declaration of a fiscal With regard to the budget
$18.5 million – this coming just crisis. Our Business Services staff freeze, we’re striving to ensure
four years after the last round of recognized that it’s critical to cap- the classroom is least affected at
draconian cuts. ture savings now in order to mini- all levels. Arts, athletics and clubs
Recently, IUSD Superintendent mize cuts in 2008-09. In short, the should also see few – if any – im-
Gwen Gross answered a series of proactive measures we take at this pacts as a result of the freeze.
questions about California’s time will help ensure a softer Equipment purchases, supplies,
budget deficit and its potential landing later. travel expenses – these are the
impact on Irvine’s schools. Q: What areas of the district areas that will help us capture
*** will be the most affected by the savings.
Q: Why was the decision freeze? As for 2008-09, reductions have
made to freeze school budgets? A: When weathering any type of yet to be identified. The develop-
A: Falling tax revenues in Cali- fiscal crisis, the goal is always to ment of a budget will be a long
fornia have brought on a state keep cuts as far away from the and collaborative process involv-
shortfall of approximately $14.5 classroom as possible. So expen- ing input from all staff, with our
billion, and the governor has ditures essential to classroom in- Board of Education establishing
pledged not to raise taxes to struction, safety, contract compli- the district’s needs and priorities.
bridge the gap. This presents seri- ance and operational necessity Q: The Governor has indi-
ous challenges for K-12 school will not be affected by the freeze. cated a willingness to solve the
districts, which will be signifi- Vacant position requests will be state crisis by cutting all depart-
cantly impacted in 2008-09, if not reviewed on a case-by-case basis. ments, including education, by
sooner. Equipment purchases, supplies 10 percent. If this happens, how
The budget freeze was imple- and expenses related to travel or (Continued on page 2)
(Continued from page 1) come a reality. We will therefore eral years out and analyzing vari-
soon embark on the road to identi- ous economic trends. But Califor-
would IUSD’s budget and fund- fying potential areas of reduction. nia’s budget is prone to wild fluc-
ing be further affected? What One other point worth mention- tuations from year to year. We
kinds of cuts would this trans- ing: Irvine Unified and other dis- look forward to the day when
late into for schools? tricts are required to adopt budg- education funding is consistent so
A: The short answer is it’s too ets by June 30, as is the state. But that spending cuts aren’t neces-
soon to know how IUSD will be the Governor and the Legislature sary every few years.
specifically impacted by the state rarely meet that deadline. They Q: Will modernization and
deficit. usually don’t produce a concrete construction projects come to a
Now for the longer version: spending plan until late summer halt during the state budget cri-
The 10 percent cut, which or early fall. As you can imagine, sis?
makes no attempt to prioritize ex- A: Fortunately, no. Even as the
penditures statewide, is what’s state grapples with this year’s
outlined in the Governor’s Janu- budget, you may see some new
ary budget proposal for the next and ongoing construction projects
fiscal year, which begins July 1, throughout our district. It’s im-
2008. That plan threatens to short- “IUSD and other districts portant to remember that the
change California’s schools by money for capital projects must
$4.8 billion and would cost us
are legally required to legally be kept separate from the
about $18.5 million. However, plan for 2008-09 under the general fund budget, which pays
these figures are not etched in for teachers, books and supplies.
stone. Negotiations in the Legisla- assumption that the According to the state’s very
ture will likely result in alternate Governor’s $4.8 billion cut complex financing rules, funds
proposals before a real budget is obtained for facilities projects
adopted. to education will must be spent on facilities,
In the meantime, the Governor become a reality.” whether they come from the state
is mandated to release a revised or from other sources.
version of his budget proposal in - Supt. Gwen E. Gross Despite the state’s financial cri-
May, taking into account any new sis, we will continue to apply for
information since January. It’s these dollars, which will be spent
called the “May Revise,” and it effectively and responsibly to im-
will offer a little more guidance prove our schools.
for educators, but it’s still far that makes it difficult for school Q: How long do you think
from a real budget. We probably districts to plan. state cuts will continue to affect
won’t see one of those until Au- Q: How much was the district IUSD?
gust or September. able to anticipate cuts, and how A: IUSD is likely to be im-
It’s important to note that Or- prepared are you going for- pacted in 2008-09 and 2009-10
ange County parents, educators ward? unless the state’s revenues re-
and school employees have united A: We knew this was going to bound quicker than anticipated.
to fight the proposed cuts, and be a challenging budget year, but California’s economy is prone to
statewide groups are once again the magnitude of California’s ups and downs, so the lean times
gearing up to play a major role in deficit was not revealed until the generally give way to robust
the battle. So the numbers may Governor declared a fiscal crisis years. Nevertheless, in good times
change. However, IUSD and other on Jan. 10 and produced a budget and bad, we are fortunate to have
districts are legally required to proposal for 2008-09. teachers, staff, students, parents
plan for 2008-09 under the as- Our district has a long tradition and community supporters who
sumption that the Governor’s $4.8 of diligent fiscal planning, and are committed to promoting and
billion cut to education will be- that process includes looking sev- nurturing our world-class schools.