District deficit for next year increases to $2.75 million

December 15, 2009 — by Rebecca Nguyen and Anna Shen

After a Dec. 8 school board meeting, district officials have concluded that the earlier projection of a $1.6 million budget deficit for next year has increased to $2.75 million because of a re-adjusted estimate of local property values.

“Where we are now is [figuring out] what are we going to do––that’s what we’re negotiating now,” principal Jeff Anderson said. “We are working with the board to figure out where should we save money and where that money is going to come from.”

The initial $1.6 million deficit resulted from cuts in state categorical funding and less revenue from local property taxes, which had slowed from a 6.6 percent assessed value growth rate to an estimated 3 percent. However, new data showed that the assessed value growth rate for properties in the district will be 1 percent, not 3 percent, thus resulting in a bigger deficit.

Anderson said he hopes property values will soon return to previous levels once the economy rebounds.

“In in our little bubble of the world, I’d like to think that it’s going to come back sooner rather than later,” said Anderson. “I’m optimistic by nature, so I’m hoping that [recovery from the deficit] is going to be quick.”

Over the course of the next year, LGSUHSD will be looking for ways to save money. Multiple changes could occur next year, such as fewer classes and electives, teacher and staff layoffs, reduced programs, larger class sizes, alignment of Saratoga’s and Los Gatos’ schedules and reduced summer school options, among other possibilities.

“[Purchasing of new equipment and materials] will be on hold,” said Anderson. “We might have to get by with the white board pens we have or the textbooks we have because we simply can’t buy any next year.”

The district also expects to use money from the district’s 4 percent and 10 percent emergency strategic reserves—rainy day funds to help weather financial crises, said superintendent Cary Matsuoka.

Despite the many changes that could happen, Anderson said the main goal is to make sure that the education of students at Saratoga and Los Gatos High Schools will not be hurt in the long run.

” Hopefully, [students’] education will not be impacted at all, but there may be some things that will be different from the way they were in the past, in terms of the number of programs and availability,” Anderson said.

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