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Manteca Unified taps reserves to cover $9 million budget shortfall
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Manteca Unified School District is dipping into reserves to cover a $9 million shortfall due to the state not covering the tab for home-to-school transportation and special education.

The district is currently receiving $1.2 million from the State of California for student transportation. The actual total cost to provide that service to students is $6.5 million, which means the district is coughing up the additional $5.3 million for that expense.

The news is not going to get any better in the student-transportation department. The state is proposing to end all transportation funding to school districts at the end of 2016.

It is also costing Manteca Unified an additional $15.2 million to its special education program which receives only $9.2 million in funding.

Transportation and special education are not the only areas where schools are experiencing financial drought from the state. All funding for school repairs and maintenance, also called deferred maintenance, has been eliminated as well by the state. Likewise, there are no state funds available to modernize school facilities. District officials hope Measure G will come to the rescue. A successful passage of the $159 million school bond, known as Measure G, in the Nov. 4 election this year would fill in these maintenance and modernization funding holes.

In the 2014-2015 budget approved by the Board of Trustees, the biggest slice in the district’s spending pie – $170 million – comes from the state. That is followed by $9.8 million from the federal government, and $6.9 million from local taxes. All that adds up to $186.7 million incoming funds for the district during the current school year, which is less than $9 million of the projected expenses of $195.7 million. That budget deficit is being covered by the district’s general fund reserve.

Employee salaries grab the lion’s share of the district expenses in the 2014-2-15 budget – 62 percent of the spending pie which translates to $122.5 million. In descending order, the rest of the money goes to employee benefits ($32.7 million), services contracted by the district ($16.5 million), school supplies ($12.5 million), school equipment ($6.5 million), and operating expenses ($5 million).