Schools facing more automatic spending cuts

November 4, 2011 9:25:37 PM PDT
In Sacramento, the budget ax is dangling over the heads of teachers and there may be very little that can be done about it. Unless more revenue magically appears in the state's bank account, automatic spending cuts are going to kick in.

Classrooms across California are on pins and needles. Next month, the Brown administration will determine if more budget cuts are necessary. Tax revenues need to be $4 billion above forecast; anything less will automatically trigger cuts with schools likely to take the brunt.

School Services of California has been keeping an eye on the economy to advise many school districts.

"All indicators are heading south; we believe if it's a pure economic decision, those triggers would have to be pulled," School Services of California spokesperson John Gray said.

In fact, the state account is $700 million below forecast right now with fewer people working and spending less.

Fourth grade teacher Thomas Prather begins to cry when told the trigger cuts are a real possibility.

"It's important for them to have the funding they need; sorry I'm getting emotional, but you're talking to a person that's fought for these students for a long time," Prather said.

Prather's school has been targeted for closure once before. The kids don't like the uncertainty of the state budget.

2007 was the last year schools got all the funding they were supposed to get.

"A lot of our kids try to do their best and get good grades and help the teacher out and do fundraisers," fourth grade student Janette Williams said.

Public universities and social programs are also on the trigger list.

The state insists it's still too early to worry.

"There are a lot of critical data that we're going to be getting over the next several weeks that's going to have a major impact on where our revised revenue forecast ends up," California Department of Finance spokesperson HD Palmer said.

But consider that, had a similar trigger mechanism been in effect in each of the last two school years, more cuts would have been done because revenues were billions below forecast.

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