Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 07/02/2010 06:13:58 PM PDT

CHINO – School district board members have authorized the superintendent to begin work on substantial future budget cuts to deal with a major deficit expected in two years.

Chino Valley Unified officials project a $30 million deficit in the 2012-2013 school year, as expenditures have begun to outpace revenues and massive reductions to state education coffers continue. The board must determine a fiscal plan to deal with the shortfall by its first interim budget report to the county on Nov. 20.

Superintendent Wayne Joseph said he expects the cuts will be “ugly.”

“I think that when you’re looking at $30 million dollars, no program, nothing is safe in the school district,” Joseph said. “We have to look at every single area and when 80 percent of your budget is personnel, you know then that this $30 million has human faces on it.”

Public school officials and employees statewide have blamed cuts on the ongoing state budget crisis with more than $18 billion in education cuts to K-12 public education over the past two years. District revenues have dropped about $50 million in the past two years. Officials said they expect a potential $1.5 billion in statewide cuts to education over the next year.

“Every time we turn, they’re taking away and we have to do it to survive, it’s just a like a business, but we still keep the expectations high and that’s the rub,” said Cortez Elementary School principal Rod Federwisch, who attended the board meeting on Thursday.

“We want good quality education, and we want our kids to be successful and yet we give them less and less,” Federwisch said.

“It’s just going to get worse until we as a society figure out what we want. Are we going to keep taking away money out of education to meet the deficits or are we going to say other services need to be cut? I’m glad I’m not a legislator, because it’s going to be tough times.”

District officials have characterized the recent cuts as agonizing and have expressed trepidation over their upcoming decisions, which are expected to cut deeper into district services. Boardmembers said they expect to cut about $10 million to $15 million in the next year and the same amount for 2012-2013.

“I don’t know what we’re going to come up with for $10 (million) or $15 million a year and we’ll be looking at things that have not been looked at before,” said boardmember Michael Calta.

“The superintendent has to come up with another list and we’ll probably look at music again, sports, and transportation. It’s a sad state of affairs.”

The move to look for more cuts comes after significant district budget reductions in the past few years have closed three schools, reduced visual and performing arts funding, adult school funding, and an increase to a 30-student-to-teacher class size ratio in grades K-3.

Employee unions have also agreed to major concessions in order to reduce district costs, including furlough days, salary increases, and class size increases.

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