State helps Clovis schools balance budget

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis schools budget has been balanced — at least for a year.

Clovis Municipal Schools administrators said changes in funding at the state level helped recoup most of a projected $1.3 million deficit officials reported during a budget workshop two weeks ago.

“We came out much better than we expected when they did that,” Interim Superintendent G.C. Ross said after Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Part of the difficulty in making the 2005/2006 budget was dealing with unfunded mandates, officials said.
Compounding this difficulty, some teachers at the second level in the Three-Tier Licensure system are scheduled to receive roughly a $5,000 raise next year.

The state changed to what is called “categorical” funding, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Michael Erwin said, which pays for the salary increase.

But that change is not permanent.

“All it does, is give us a year to look at things,” Erwin told the board.

School administrators were surprised to see the massive increase in funding, and called state authorities to confirm it was correct.

“It gives us the opportunity to deal with the situation this year, and gives us more time to deal with the alternative education and other issues that are facing the district,” Erwin said after the meeting.

Officials said they may have to reduce teaching staff by as many as 10, all through attrition, to meet the budget. Officials had been concerned far more teachers could be impacted before the funding figures were released.

With the unexpected funding from the state, administrators were able to trim other “line items” to balance the 2005/2006 budget, Erwin said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• County manager Dick Smith, and other officials from the county and the Department of Health, requested the board institute a Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey, which could be given to high school students to identify risky behavior in youth. The board will consider the survey at the next board meeting.

• The board reconsidered a request for submission of an application to rename Jefferson Street. Sixth-graders from Bella Vista Elementary have pursued avenues to change the street’s name to honor activist Cesar Chavez. By a vote of 3-2, the board voted to allow the project to go to the next step, which is submission of an application to City Planning and Zoning.