THOUSAND OAKS — Planning for future growth, Conejo Valley school trustees adopted a 1996-97 budget Thursday that will allow them to hire seven new teachers and nine part-time custodians.
The $81.4-million budget gives the school district about $6.5 million more to spend than in the 1995-96 budget.
And thanks to an improving state economy, the 17,800-student district expects to receive at least $1 million more when Gov. Pete Wilson approves the final state budget later this summer.
"I, for one, am pleased," said Gary Mortimer, assistant superintendent for business services. "It's wonderful that the state is coming up with more money to put toward programs."
Proposition 98 funds account for about $500,000 of the new money, but the bulk will come from a 3.21% cost-of-living increase from the state--the second significant increase for school districts in years.
Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988, guarantees that about 40% of state tax revenues, at a minimum, go to public education--kindergarten through community colleges.
The rest of the money comes from a projected increase in students that results in more money from the state.
The 1996-97 budget estimates that 400 new students will join the district next year, bringing its expected enrollment to 18,232.
The bulk of new money will be used to hire seven new instructors to teach the swelling ranks of pupils. There was also money in the budget to hire three teachers who will specialize in reading.
About $98,700 will go toward hiring part-time custodians for nine elementary schools that currently have only one janitor.
"They work very hard," Mortimer said. "[But] that's not enough staff to keep the schools clean."
An additional $66,200 will enable the district to hire a technician who will help link the district's computers and install and maintain computer labs at various schools.
The new budget does not include raises for teachers or staff. Both parties are still negotiating their contracts.
But it does include money to fund two new work days, which will boost teachers' income by 1%.