School district OKs $49.6M budget

By Maureen Robertson

Ramona Unified School District trustees approved a $49.6 million budget, but they remain uncertain how a state budget, when it passes, will affect their spending plan for the 2011-12 school year that starts July 1.

News on Monday that the governor and Legislature had reached a tentative agreement on a budget didn’t change that uncertainty, because the district had no details as of Tuesday. Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann will update the school board on state budget developments at its meeting on Thursday, July 7, at 7 p.m. in the Wilson Administrative Center, 729 Ninth St.

RUSD’s 2011-12 budget is about $4.7 million less than its 2010-11 budget of $54.3 million. It has a deficit of about $6 million.

The deficit will be filled with the district’s estimated ending balance this year of almost $5 million and about $1 million from its special reserve fund, said Ostermann. This would leave the reserve fund about $10,000 above the state-required 3 percent.

An increase for health benefits of about 16.5 percent, or $900,000, is included in the budget.

Ostermann explained that the 2011-12 budget is based on the district receiving $330 per student less from the state and paying an estimated $650,000 for county mental health services. That’s the direction districts received from the San Diego County Office of Education, he said.

With those assumptions and looking ahead, the district anticipates an estimated $7.6 million deficit in 2012-13 and a $16.1 million deficit in 2013-14, Ostermann said, reviewing his multi-year projections with the school board.

If the state budget calls for flat funding and paying for mental health services, the 2011-12 year could see an ending balance of $2.5 million, with a $2.5 million deficit in 2012-13 and an $8.4 million shortfall in 2013-14, reported Ostermann.

Key uncertainties in the budget are the state budget — “What will that be? How long will it take to pass that budget,” asked Ostermann — the economy, student enrollment and whether health insurance projections are correct.

The district will know more about health insurance by mid-July or early August, said Ostermann.



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