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School districts cautious about Proposition 30 funds
The Colusa Unified School District will still need to cut close to $600,000 from its next budget, but the restoration of Proposition 30 funding into local school budgets has generated a cautious sigh of relief throughout the county.
Despite the 2018 funding cycle written into the measure, districts like Pierce and Maxwell are viewing the funds as one-time state payments, careful not count the cash before it is in hand.
Maxwell Unified Superintendent Ron Turner also cautions the public from thinking about Proposition 30 as new money for schools.
"It didn't give us new money. ... It is basically funding at the level of last year, and I don't know if it is going to be ongoing," Turner said.
"It is just going to keep the status quo for our staff and programs."
The district had prepared for the Proposition 30 scenario by building two budgets for the 2012-13 school year.
"If Prop. 30 had not passed, it would have meant cuts between $120,000 and $140,000," Turner said.
Dwayne Newman, in his first year at Colusa Unified, is a bit more optimistic that the funding will come annually until the terms of the initiative sunset in 2018.
But that does not make it a windfall for a district that has regularly dipped into its reserves in recent years to try to keep the education levels up.
"This is a short-term fix to some of the state's budget woes, but we have to presume it will be ongoing," Newman said.
The administrator said some of the funds will be invested into technology, upgrades to which were made six years ago. He also plans to invest into the district's English-learner program to improve academic achievement goals in that area.
"We have a big (achievement) gap between our English-learners and the rest of the students; and when I came on board, I told (the board) that was a top-tier item," Newman said.
But much of the $800,000 in Prop. 30 fun ing is just to keep Colusa Unified on course.
"We have to cut about $600,000 next year even with passage of Prop. 30," Newman said. "At one point, our projections had us cutting $1.4 million had Prop. 30 not passed. Education here would have looked significantly different."
Ernest Sopp, also in his first-year as superintendent at Pierce Joint Unified in Arbuckle, said the $570,000 the district has received is largely going toward technology upgrades to meet new state curriculum and testing requirements in the next couple of years.
Like Turner, he said he views the funding as one-time income, and said the district board had already made a series of cuts in recent years as funding diminished.
This money will only mean no additional cuts to staff and programs will need to be made.
"And we don't know what we'll be getting annually, so we are looking at it as one-time money," Sopp said.
Williams and Princeton officials could not be reached for comment in time for publication.