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Articles

OUSD Closes Budget Gap

By Misty Volaski

The Ojai Unified School District meeting Tuesday evening brought to the table a bit of good news as the anticipated $2.8 million budget gap has been closed. Cuts both large and small have been made to personnel and services at each of the schools, resulting in a very thin safety net for OUSD when the state government hands down its official budget in June.
The OUSD has a current reserve fund —- which is strongly recommended to be 3 percent of its total annual budget — of just 1 percent. That doesn’t leave much room for unanticipated expenses or emergencies.
Superintendent Hank Bangser put this in perspective. “If you think of it as a family’s annual income being, say, $50,000,” he said, “Think about waking up tomorrow morning and having 2 percent of that in the bank. That’s $1,000 for a whole year, to respond to things like a car wreck or a furnace blowing up, or the roof needing repairs. That’s very tight.”
Eventually the district aims to get the reserve back up to the recommended 3 percent, but that’s still a few years away if all goes well.
“We have a very small reserve available,” Bangser added. “But that’s the way we had to do it, we made so many cuts. We had to cut the equivalent of 27 people (for the 2010-2011 school year). That’s about 10 percent of the staff in the district. And it’s important to remember that we’ve been making cuts for several years now. We have budgeted to the absolute final degree of being able to cut anymore.”
However, rearranging program policies here and there is helping ease the burden a bit. Although the food services program did suffer cuts in personnel for the coming 2010-2011 school year, they are cracking down on portion control (so fewer purchases have to be made during the year, and so those purchases would last longer). This alone  will save thousands of dollars a year. The schools are also eliminating a few items, like chocolate milk, and increasing the costs of some a la carte items. Some of the increases in food item costs will be as much as 33 percent. Pauline Mercado, board member and clerk, initially voiced her concern with passing along the financial burden to the students, “many of whom are in the same situation we are or worse.”
Explained Bangser: 33

The Ojai Unified School District meeting Tuesday evening brought to the table a bit of good news as the anticipated $2.8 million budget gap has been closed. Cuts both large and small have been made to personnel and services at each of the schools, resulting in a very thin safety net for OUSD when the state government hands down its official budget in June. The OUSD has a current reserve fund —- which is strongly recommended to be 3 percent of its total annual budget — of just 1 percent. That doesn’t leave much room for

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