By Rick La Plante, New Haven Schools Director of Parent and Community Relations
If voters reject a statewide tax initiative on the November ballot, the New Haven Unified School District faces the loss of an additional $1.3 million over previous estimates for the 2012-13 budget, the result of revisions to the state budget announced last week by Gov. Brown.
“We now must plan to reduce our budget by more than $12 million,” Superintendent Kari McVeigh wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to employees.
“When the Governor announced his May budget revisions last week, it appeared public education had been spared further cuts, or at least those cuts would be relatively minor,” the Superintendent wrote. “But as details of the revisions became clear, it became evident that two key pieces of the funding model had been impacted.”
The first is the deficit factor, the percentage by which an expected allocation of funds to a school district can be reduced based on the funding formulas specified by law. In the budget proposed in January, the Governor cited a deficit factor of 21.666%. In his revision, the deficit factor has been increased to 22.273%.
“That means our Revenue Limit, the funding we receive based on ADA (average daily attendance) has been reduced from $5,253.53 per student to $5,216.78,” Ms. McVeigh explained. “That translates to a loss of $475,104.”
On top of that, the latest estimate of the additional per student loss if the Governor’s tax initiative fails has been raised from $370 per ADA to $441. That translates to a loss of $882.981.
“The two factors combined equate to a loss of $1,340,085, meaning our estimated budget deficit for 2012-13 has grown from $11,123,965, at the time of our second interim report, to $12,464,050,” Superintendent McVeigh wrote.
The District’s deficit will shrink by about $3 million if New Haven voters pass Measure H, a parcel tax that will be decided in the June 5 primary election. And if the Governor’s tax initiative passes in November, the District will recoup about $5.5 million.
“On the other hand,” Superintendent McVeigh wrote, “should the November initiative fail, the Governor’s budget authorizes additional cuts to the school year, a combined total of 15 days in 2012-13 and 2013-14, in addition to the five days per year currently allowed. Our best thinking at this point is that it could mean at least 13 budget-reduction days in 2012-13.”
The District was forced to cut the school year by five days this year, and employees took a total of six days without pay. The District has reduced the work year by three additional non-student days in its preliminary budget for 2012-13, meaning employees would lose nine days’ pay.
In addition, some 70 teachers, received precautionary layoff notices this spring, as the District has been forced to play for another increase to class sizes and the elimination of elementary school specialists (music, science, etc.) and middle school electives (music, art, etc.). Additionally, more than 30 precautionary layoff notices have been issued to administrators and classified employees. Counselors and all library/media specialists are at risk, and stipends for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities also are in jeopardy.
Measure H would authorize a parcel tax of $180 per year, with citizen oversight, no funds for administrators’ salaries and exemptions available for seniors (65 and older) and the disabled (those receiving Supplemental Security Income payments). The measure, which will expire after four years, requires a two-thirds majority to pass.