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Orange County Focus

SANTA ANA : School Board Must Cut Budget Further

August 16, 1990|GREG HERNANDEZ

State budget cuts have forced the Santa Ana Unified School District to trim about $1.8 million from its budget.

The district's Board of Education this week approved a series of budget cuts and reviewed budget adjustments that will leave the district with a $2-million budget contingency--far below the approximately $3.8 million in reserves recommended for a district of Santa Ana's size.

"What I believe the governor has asked us to do is swim upstream without any water," board member Robert Richardson said.

Board President Audrey Yamagata-Noji agreed.

"It's been a very difficult time for the board," she said. "The budget is very lean, and we can't afford to have any unexpected problems as we grow at a rate we're not properly compensated for."

The district, which had already trimmed more than $4 million from its budget this year in anticipation of the governor's action, lost another $3.1 million in state money because of the latest cuts.

To make up for the loss, district officials have reduced the budget in areas such as building maintenance and art supplies for a savings of more than $500,000.

"We went back through every department and made cuts we hoped would not affect the students in the classroom and any of the programs," said Gaylen Freeman, assistant superintendent for business services.

The board agreed to all cuts recommended by the staff except slashing a recommended $15,000 from a dropout-prevention program at Santa Ana High and Spurgeon Intermediate.

"Our district has a problem with dropouts," Noji said. "I have a concern about cutting back in two areas where this is desperately needed."

While the budget reductions resulted in some savings, much of the lost state money has been made up in a series of budget adjustments that will bring $1.2 million to the district's reserves.

The adjustments include $470,000 in unanticipated money the district receives from the state related to the average daily attendance figures and $700,000 in interest payments the district had set aside but does not have to pay until 1992.

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