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Slimmer budget reflects austere times
pic budget
The presentation of Manteca Unified’s budget for the 2009-10 school year is about one-third the size of that of the previous year. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Copies of Manteca Unified’s final budget are available at the district office.

One noticeable difference between the bounded 2009-10 financial plan compared to that of the previous years could be found in the number of pages.

The one approved last Tuesday by the school board is about one-third the size, containing only the important facts and figures.

For starters, rather than multiple drawings, one student – Alex Yang, a first-grade student from New Haven School – has a drawing featured on the cover of the final budget.

The budget, according to Superintendent Jason Messer, is “a reflection of the process we’ve gone through.”

Included in the balanced budget totaling over $154 million are cuts in services, staff, programs and employee compensation totaling $32 million.

The Level I and Level II cuts came as recommendation from the “Superintendent’s Budget Reduction Committee,” with administration using the flexibility granted by the state to reduce or eliminate those programs funded by restricted money during the 2008-09 school year.

The additional loss in ADA – 21,803 students would signify a decline in the average daily attendance of 255 – the district opted to reduce staffing classes at the contract maximum.

With the state providing leniency to districts increasingclassroom sizes, from 20 to as much as 32 students, Manteca Unified will do away with class-size reduction at kindergarten-through-third grade and freshmen English and math, with a projected savings of $3.9 million.

The district also earmarked $10 million from the retirement fund in order to meet the state requirement of showing a balanced budget for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

“This budget includes the projections based on the Governor’s most recent proposal,” board President Michael Seelye said.

The enacted 2009-10 California State Budget calls for reduce funding to education by $8.6 billion. The education code is providing school districts with some flexibility by using funds from Tier Three programs.