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School Board Calculates Ways to Ease Budget Crunch

By Teresa Rochester

April 26 -- The School Board last week threw its tentative support behind the superintendent's recommendation to stave off a $2.5 million budget shortfall by boosting revenues instead of implementing massive budget cuts or pumping more students into nearly full schools.

Supt. John Deasy has recommended the board seek the new revenues from the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu and place a parcel tax on the November ballot. At the same time, strategic cuts will be made to budget, which is expected to be $2.7 million short during the 2003/2004 school year.

The other options Deasy presented to the board in a memo earlier this month include massive, across-the-board budget cuts or a break from a new class size reduction policy that would have cut district enrollment by 500 to 600 students.

Deasy recommended asking Santa Monica and Malibu for minimum increases of $2 million dollars and $250,000 respectively. Currently, Santa Monica and Malibu annually contribute $3 million and $25,000 respectively out of budgets of approximately $367 million and $19 million.

"Maintaining your well crafted policies on improving teaching and learning, preparing to fund the strategic planning recommendations, sustaining current programming and beginning to enhance programs for students will require increased revenue," Deasy wrote in his memo.

The Board directed staff to come back with an analysis of the options, with particular focus on the option boosting revenues. It will likely be presented to the board at its meeting on May 2.

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