Canan Tasci, Staff Writer
Created: 02/07/2011 09:19:14 PM PST

ONTARIO – Ontario-Montclair School District could face up to $13.2 million in budget cuts for the next school year if the Legislature and voters are not willing to OK a tax extension proposed by the governor.

In best- and worst-case scenarios, Superintendent James Hammond presented two budget recommendations at the board meeting last week that reflect what would happen if a tax measure passes or if it fails.

“I think (parents) should be concerned because of the state’s inability to have a plan to fund schools. But what they’ll see next year I think is larger class sizes, more combination classes, differences in services, as far as classified support staff that handle a lot of day-to-day operations of the front office, and timeliness of communications or frequency of communications,” Hammond said.

“But the overall effect of the quality of programing will still be done by first-class people, teachers and excellent staff – but it will be a challenge because the work will not go away. We’ll just do it with less people.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to close a $25 billion budget gap without cutting K-12 schools depends on voters approving a five-year extension to temporary taxes in a special election.

If the tax measure passes, OMSD still will have to cut $6.2 million from from the 2011-12 school year budget. If the measure fails, the district will have to eliminate an additional $7 million.

“That’s just for the 2011-12 school year, but some of these cuts are ongoing, so it will be sustainable and some of them are one-time, but it just depends if the tax measure passes,” Hammond said.

The board did not approve staff-recommended cuts at its Feb. 3 meeting. Budget decisions will be made at the next board meeting on Feb. 17.

School districts throughout the state are being advised to forecast two sets of budget projections for the 2011-12 school year, setting forth projections based on whether voters approve the extended taxes.

The results of the election will not be known until mid-June. If the tax is defeated, the district would not be able to identify and make the necessary reductions to adopt its budget by June 30, the legally mandated date for all school budgets to be filed.

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