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LCUSD passes final budget and resolution to include Sagebrush area

Board passes resolution in support of integrating Sagebrush area.

August 07, 2013|By Sara Cardine

The La Cañada Unified School District will receive $1.5 million more in revenue from the state this school year than it did last year but will still be operating with an $800,000 deficit, according to a final budget passed Tuesday night.

School board members voted unanimously to approve the $36.6-million budget, a revision that takes into account Gov. Jerry Brown's new school-funding model, but stressed the need for fiscal prudence and an end to deficit spending moving forward.

The board also formally passed a resolution declaring its unanimous support for a community petition requesting the integration of the western section of La Cañada, known as the Sagebrush area, into school district boundaries. The declaration follows a June 3 resolution passed by the La Cañada Flintridge City Council.

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Ruben Rojas, recently hired as LCUSD's chief business and operations operator, presented the details of the new budget and the impact of the state's new funding formula at Tuesday's meeting.

"We've actually gained, by virtue of the new funding model, about $1.5 million. It's true we did not lose revenue, we gained revenue," Rojas said.

According to the new budget, La Cañada Unified will receive $6,167 per average daily attendance (ADA). One student who attends every school day equals one ADA. The old funding model would have brought in only $5,320, according to district figures.

The new model, called the Local Control Funding Formula, offers additional money for disadvantaged districts and low-income students and English Language Learners, but the La Cañada district does not demographically qualify for that.

The school board passed an earlier budget June 18, just four days after passage of the state budget, to keep the district in compliance with mandated deadlines. Officials knew then that La Cañada Unified would have 45 days to submit a revised budget using the new funding formula figures.

That budget, in the amount of $35.2 million, was passed before the district-approved 2% salary increases for its union employees retroactive to July 2012. The new budget does account for that, which is partly why expenditures exceed revenue.

Rojas praised the district for its cautious maintenance of reserve funds beyond what is recommended by the California School Boards Assn., but emphasized the need to reduce the deficit sooner rather than later. LCUSD maintains a 3.5% reserve as opposed to the recommended 3%.

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