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Loomis District balances budget

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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The Loomis Union School District has managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and balance the 2012-2013 school year budget without laying off any teachers. According to Jay Stewart, associate superintendent, the district offered a one-time retirement incentive of $20,000 for teachers age 55 and over with a minimum of five years at the district. In June, six teachers will retire, saving the district $130,527 for the upcoming school year and $242,631 for the following school year. Retiring are Placer Elementary School kindergarten teachers Carleen Foley and Donna Page; H. Clarke Powers fourth-grade teacher Rick Lutkemuller; and special education teachers Pam Rivera, from Penryn Elementary School; Nancy Turner, from Loomis Grammar School; and Beverly Call, from Ophir Elementary School. Laura Bishop, special education director, will also retire in June. Stewart said four new teachers will be hired to replace the retirees, and class sizes will be capped at a student/teacher ratio of 26 to 1, in grades kindergarten to third; and 30 to 1 in grades fourth to eighth. Other reductions approved by the board include cutting home to school student bussing, since the state will no longer be funding it, for a savings of $271,620. They will also suspend a student counseling program, reduce classified staffing hours at some schools, and cut para educator and school librarian staffing hours. Stewart said since the state budget woes began, the district is only receiving 79 cents on the dollar and had to plan next year for an additional cut of $370 per student for average daily attendance, along with the loss of transportation funding. Stuart said there is even a new budgetary term being used by school districts called “trigger cuts.” He said those are cuts made by the state and are triggered by tax revenue shortfalls resulting from a slower than expected economic recovery. According to a report Stuart delivered to the school board, the district expects to generate revenue from facility use charges and from a donation from the Loomis Basin Education Foundation to fund a physical education teacher position. The district could also see additional revenue from new students coming to the district for the all-day kindergarten programs for the 2012-2013 school year. Those programs include traditional kindergarten, junior kindergarten and transitional kindergarten. Stuart’s budget sharpening also pared the deficit for the 2013-2014 school year – expected to be the Armegedden for school districts across the state with many being forced into bankruptcy – to $1.5 million, instead of the $4.5 million it was at just weeks ago. Gordon Medd, district superintendent, said if the governor’s temporary tax proposal on the November ballot passes, the remaining deficit for the 2013-2014 school year would be erased. The governor has proposed a one percent tax increase for single filers making more than $250,000, and two percent for income over $500,000. For joint filers the increase would be one percent for income above $500,000, and up to two percent for income over $1 million. A temporary statewide sales tax increase of .5 percent is also included. These tax increases would be in effect until 2016 and would be expected to generate $6.9 billion in additional revenue for the state.