Mar 6, 2013 8:27 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

School budget cuts differ across districts

After Paso Robles school officials approved laying off 27 employees yesterday, we wanted to know why some districts are having financial woes while others seem to be doing fairly well.
What we found out is some districts like Santa Maria and Paso Robles are funded primarily through the state based on attendance. Some, like San Luis Coastal, are primarily funded by property taxes

"One of the ways we fix it is through personnel," said San Luis Coastal Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Rick Robinett.

Robinett says the hard fact of life is that 92% of the funding districts receive is spent on employee salary and benefits.

"We have a structural budget deficit that we're predicting for next year of about $4.5 million," said Robinett.

Filling that gap is painful, he says, especially when it comes to handing out pink slips.

"It's the worst thing we go through. It's the worst part of spring in a school district," said Robinett.

He says the state requires districts to issue preliminary layoff notices before March 15th.

"There's this kind of limbo land we're in where employees may lose their jobs or they may not," said Robinett.

Employees won't receive final notice of termination until sometime before May 15th and will continue working through the current school year.

San Luis Coastal is facing budget issues because of falling home values which affect the amount of property taxes it receives. Santa Maria and Paso Robles on the other hand are based on daily average attendance.

In a growing city like Santa Maria, attendance is up, leading to a budget surplus. Paso Robles has seen a decrease in attendance over the last few years and is feeling the pinch.

"You know, you hope for the best but have to plan for the worst so that's kind of the dilemma we're in," said Robinett.

Those who have received notices, including those in Paso Robles, would get to continue working for the district if the funding is in Governor Jerry Brown's upcoming budget.



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