After hearing more bad budget news from Sacramento, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education voted to freeze spending and to fill no future staff openings in anticipation of severe budget cuts.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to institute the budget freeze after Deputy Supt. Paul H. Reed said the current talk among state legislators drafting the budget is to cut public school funding to help balance the state's budget.
Two months ago, schools were expecting no cost-of-living increase for the fiscal year that begins July 1, Reed said. But now, state officials are seriously suggesting a 1.1% decrease in the cost-of-living adjustment for the districts.
"I have never even envisioned a negative" adjustment, Reed said. "It's just not comprehensible."
If the cuts come through, the school board will be faced with cutting even more deeply than the worst-case scenario he presented in February, Reed said. Although it will be nearly impossible to cut more than about $1.5 million from next school year's budget, the projected cut for the 1993-94 school year will have to increase from $2 million to about $2.6 million, he said.
Those cuts still won't balance either year's budgets, he said. The district will have to borrow about $3.6 million from insurance reserves and other funds to pay the day-to-day costs of salaries and operating the schools, he said.
The money borrowed from those funds will have to be repaid in future years, Reed said, making the total cuts in the 1993-94 school year about $5.1 million.
To put those cuts into perspective, Reed outlined a possible scenario:
Laying off 10 elementary school media center specialists, 19 teachers (by cutting sixth period at the middle schools and shaving the school day for grades one through four), six district office staff members, six assistant principals, 13 high school counselors and four middle school librarians--a total of 58 people--would save only about $2.3 million a year.
All those cuts assume also that teachers will accept no pay increases for the next two years, Reed said, which will require a "Herculean" effort to negotiate.
Besides instituting a budget freeze, the board voted Tuesday to meet with union leaders to discuss the budget problems and gauge their willingness to accept pay freezes.