By Jeremiah Dobruck
6:52 PM PST, January 11, 2013
Despite $2.7 billion of increased K-12 school spending in Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget, Newport-Mesa Unified School District's budget guru believes the money will not make it to the Orange Coast.
Deputy Supt. Paul Reed cautioned school board trustees soon after Californians passed Proposition 30, Brown's initiative to fund schools by raising taxes,
that Newport-Mesa shouldn't count on more state money and may even need to cut another $3.2 million from its $220-million-plus budget.
"The good news for us is we have prepared for all of this very well," Reed said Friday.
Brown announced Thursday that he wants to increase aide to schools, especially those with a population of at least 50% English-language-learning and low-income students.
But his budget also sets an income threshold for schools. Any district that collects enough in local property taxes to fund its own operation, as determined by Brown's formula, would not draw from the state's pool of money.
"It essentially means that very little, if any, state money will be flowing to Newport-Mesa," Reed said.
But that's a familiar situation for the district, which is already locally funded.
Reed has, in fact, suggested that Newport-Mesa separate itself from state money even more.
In the depths of the recession, the district funded programs that normally were categorically funded by the state.
Newport-Mesa has been filling out paperwork and meeting requirements to get state funding for specific programs, even though it was funding the initiatives itself.
One local bright spot in Brown's announcement may be his intent to do away with that categorical funding, giving control of money back to districts.
But that means nothing to Newport-Mesa if it stays above the threshold of income districts must dip below to get state funding.
Reed predicts Newport-Mesa's income will remain above that bar. But he said that could change in the final budget.
Negotiations between the Legislature and governor are just beginning.
"This is the opening salvo," Reed said.