Los Banos schools budget is a mixed bag

Budget OK now, but problems on horizon

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comDecember 13, 2012 

The Los Banos Unified School District's revised budget was released this week, showing both a better financial position in the short term and potential looming money issues in future years.

The 2012-13 first interim budget was compiled by Director of Fiscal Services Don Laursen. It factors in money coming back to the district after last month's passage of Proposition 30. For the Los Banos district, the immediate effect is the return of $4.2 million in average daily attendance funds and the elimination of five planned furlough days. State funding deferrals will also be reduced from 40 percent to 20 percent.

"We are happy we've been able to restore instructional days for our students. Revenues are up, but projections are where we're still actually cutting into our reserves," Superintendent Steve Tietjen said. "I think unless you return revenues to 2007-2008 levels there's no way we can keep running all of our programs (long term)."

The district is projecting a positive balance in the general fund cash flow by the end of the fiscal year, but it's only achieved through receiving $7.2 million from a combination of borrowing from internal funds and taking out an outside loan.

The district has a record-high 9,790 students and is expecting to top the 10,000 mark next year.

Tietjen said having the extra students benefits the district but also creates an added burden. More state dollars come into the district as it grows, but there is also the problem of trying to find the classroom space to educate the growing ranks. The district is facing this issue as it tries to purchase land for a second junior high school.

"We continue to negotiate for land, and money is an obstacle," Tietjen said.

Maintaining state-mandated reserve funding will be the biggest obstacle in the next few years, Tietjen said.

"The state is still taking 22 percent of our revenue," he said.

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