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Dry Creek, Eureka school districts issue preliminary pink slips

Schools will be in the red if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax plan fails
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Two of four local school districts issued pink slips by the state-mandated deadline of March 15.

The districts' board of trustees will vote on rescinding or issuing final layoff notices by May 15. School districts across California are planning their budgets for the 2012-13 year with uncertainty - waiting to see whether Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax measure will qualify for the November ballot and pass.

Brown recently compromised with the California Federation of Teachers on an initiative that would lower his original sales tax hike proposal from a half-cent to a quarter-cent per dollar, and would gradually increase income tax on the wealthy.

But school districts are bracing for the worst-case scenario.

Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District issued pink slips to 24 teachers. Some classified staff will have their hours reduced.

Dry Creek's projected budget for the 2012-13 school year is $47 million. If trigger reductions occur, the district will likely have a $4.4 million deficit, said Superintendent Mark Geyer. That's before adjustments for declining enrollment or cuts to programs.

"That budget deficit number will probably change," Geyer said.

Eureka Union School District issued pink slips to nine teachers, and cut hours and other positions for certificated support staff and assistant principals. All seven librarians were also pink slipped.

The district has a projected 2012-13 budget of about $24 million. On March 13, Eureka's board approved $1.3 million in ongoing budget reductions, leaving a remaining $2.5 million deficit, according to Chief Business Officer Melody Glaspey.

This total $3.8 million deficit - or about 15 percent of the budget - will occur if the governor's tax plan fails. The board also approved the transfer of $2.8 million from other district funds to the general fund to provide additional time to address the remaining deficit.

"This will allow more time for planning and reconfiguration of programs, and for working with our employee groups," Glaspey said.

Roseville City School District didn't issue pink slips, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Dennis Snelling. The district's projected budget for the 2012-13 school year is $66.5 million with a $5 million deficit. This amount assumes Gov. Brown's ballot initiative fails.

Roseville Joint Union High School District didn't issue pink slips. The district's projected general fund is $78 million, with an estimated $5 million deficit, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Gary Stevens.

Stevens said the district has adequate reserves to cover the shortfall next year, enabling the district to maintain programs for at least another year. Once the outcome of the governor's tax initiative is known, the district will plan for the following budget year.

"We are definitely concerned about the second and third budget years and will take the necessary steps as needed to keep the district in a sound financial condition," Stevens said.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.