SMMUSD HDQTRS — With the possibility of getting education-funding tax extensions on the June ballot remote to the point of futility and other state funding in jeopardy, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District may be in for even deeper cuts than previously thought.

The school district is looking at two scenarios, said Jan Maez, assistant superintendent and chief financial officer for SMMUSD, and both are bleak.

In the best case scenario, the district will lose $350 per student in average daily attendance, a set dollar amount remitted to the schools based on the number of students who show up district-wide.

That equates to a $3.6 million per year reduction in funding, and will decimate the school’s $15.7 million reserve fund by the end of the 2012-13 school year if spending does not change.

The worst case scenario assumes that the legislature will vote to suspend Proposition 98, a 1988 measure passed by California voters to ensure a minimum level of funding for all levels of education.

Legislators can vote to stop Prop. 98 payments under certain budget circumstances, but it would deal another $300 blow to the ADA funding on top of the $350 reduction, bringing the total to $650 per student in lost dollars.

The district would lose another $3 million in the first year, putting it over $7 million in the red by the end of the 2012-13 school year if spending doesn’t change, Maez said.

Even with drastic cuts to programs and staff, the school district won’t be able to stop the downward pressure on its reserves.

Maez presented a list of potential cuts that would lead to $7.8 million in savings, targeting everything from arts programs to extending furlough days for teachers.

“I am not suggesting that we cut these things,” Maez said. “Before any decisions are made, we’ll need a lot more detail.”

The first $2,816,250 in cuts came by axing programs saved from elimination by one-time payments from the successful Save Our Schools campaign and federal jobs money.

Those two sources paid for smaller elementary and secondary class sizes, school counselors, elementary-level library coordinators and music programs, college counselors, reading specialists and professional development for staff.

Other cuts from the regular budget included Samohi site administration, district security officers, nurses, library services, elementary music, counselors and $520,000 that kept elementary class sizes small.

Another $3 million in proposed cuts can’t come from the board of education — extending furlough days for teachers past the 2013-14 school year and freezing step increases in pay must be voted on by unions.

That money was left out of the final accounting, which spreads the reductions over the course of two years.

Without touching the furlough days and step increases, the district will lose $7.1 million between school years 2011-12 and 2013-14 under the best case scenario, and $16.1 million under the worst case scenario.

It’s unclear at this point which budget situation the school district should focus on, Maez said.

“We could run with ‘A,’ but the county wants a backup plan,” she told school board members on Wednesday night.

School board members were literally left holding their heads.

“We can hope that a local contingency measure will kick in if the state measure fails,” said Vice Chair Ben Allen.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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