School district's finances OK for two years

Newport-Mesa will be able to maintain its current programs and services no matter what the state's budget looks like.

March 10, 2011|By Britney Barnes,

COSTA MESA — The Newport-Mesa Unified School District can balance its budget for the next two years, but after that, programs and services could face the chopping block, depending on what the state does, officials said.

Acting Supt. Paul Reed presented a report that analyzed the district's financial status at Tuesday night's board meeting. The report shows the district keeping its head above water for two years, no matter what happens with the troubled state budget.

"We have challenges coming, but we're where we need to be," he said.

The report outlined three different options for what might happen with the state and how it will effect district funding.

Each scenario calls for Newport-Mesa to dip into its reserves in order to get by — a move projected to saddle the district with a wide budget gap of $100,000 to $15 million by 2012-13, Reed said.


"When you get there, it is going to be a very tough challenge from what we know today," he said.

Trustee Martha Fluor said the district needs to start planning and looking at which programs and services it wants to protect, and what could be done more efficiently.

"We need to be prepared," she said. "We need to start looking at alternative ways."

Trustee Katrina Foley asked to look into the possibility of creating a subcommittee to examine revenue-generating options.

The district has cut $24.8 million from its budget over the last couple years to keep up with funding decreases and dwindling local revenues, according to spokeswoman Laura Boss.

"We have been preparing for this financial downturn for the last five years," Trustee David Brooks said.

That planning, combined with how the district is funded, has left Newport-Mesa Unified in a better position than other districts around the state, Fluor said.

Other district have cut music programs, increased class sizes and shortened the school year to balance their budgets.

The latest rounds of cuts will force districts to "amputate portions of the school day," Fluor said.

Newport-Mesa will be able to maintain programs and services, but that is it, she said.

Developing new innovative programs or courses, or buying new textbooks and computers, will be out of the question, she said.

"Forget about that," she said. "Let's not talk about anything new or moving our district forward into the 21st century …because there's no way to do it."

The Outcomes

What could happen in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District based the three predicted paths Sacramento could take.


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