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Manteca Unified should weather state budget shenanigans
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Manteca Unified has built a budget designed to weather Sacramento’s ax even if it cuts schools as deep as some fear.

“The school board budgeted with a minus $349 per ADA (average daily attendance),” noted Superintendent Jason Messer.

That means if the worst-case scenario ends up being the adopted budget for ADA which is the amount of money school districts receive from the state per student each day they are in class, Manteca Unified won’t face any more cuts in the coming school year. That isn’t the case in many other districts including Stockton Unified and Lodi Unified that may have to make additional program cuts.

It also means schools and classroom settings will be more stable in Manteca when school resumes in August than in many other California districts.

Manteca Unified is in the position it is in today due to three things:

• The board’s decision three years ago to go forward with significant cuts while most other districts delayed a year or two hoping for the situation in Sacramento to improve.

• A decision by the board not to fill vacancies on the administrative level that have come up in recent months as well as several that are on the horizon before the end of the year.

• A moderate growth in school enrollment.

The board has opted to keep a vice principal’s position vacant and won’t replace two district level administrators who will retire before the end of 2011. The district is also reaping benefits of an aggressive energy savings program that has reaped savings of over $1 million a year.

Messer pointed out that many districts have to budget for increases in PG&E next budget year while Manteca can continue to plug in the savings.

Manteca Unified also is benefiting from the “compounding” effect of savings from cuts made three years ago in staffing. As a result the district has more breathing room.

But perhaps more important, as far as Messer is concerned, is the fact schools have stabilized after getting over the initial impacts of teachers being shifted around and often ending up in new grade levels at different schools. While initially there was a dip on teaching effectiveness as everyone from teachers to students was adjusting, Messer said test scores are trending up again.

Stockton Unified, on the other hand, has hundreds of teachers that could be moved around in response to the state budget. As a result it will create disruptions in the learning process.