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School district officials are hunting for at least $400,000 more after learning Monday that a dip in Gov. Gray Davis’ school budget has left Gilroy Unified short $135,000 it was counting on for next year.
Davis budget decreased the cost of living adjustment — the percentage budget increase that school districts get from the state — from an already-low 1.83 percent for the 1999-00 school year to 1.41 percent. Last year’s increase was 3.95 percent.
The decrease, which came out in Davis’ May revision Monday, has left the school district with a surplus for next year of about $392,600 — about $135,000 less than it had expected.
Originally, Gilroy Unified estimated a surplus of about $527,600. The $392,600 is what will be left in the district’s unrestricted general fund next year.
The low amount had trustees a little worried. The school district has not concluded negotiations with classified employees, who are requesting a 5.5 percent salary increase, which is what teachers received in January. The classified employees’ union, the California School Employees Association, has rejected the district’s offer of 2 percent. Increases for management personnel have not yet been addressed.
“We haven’t settled with CSEA, and we don’t have management increases, and we haven’t seen penny one for salary enhancements,” said Board President Jane Howard.
The board will hold a special meeting May 25 to discuss ways to find extra money. Options include restructuring the central office. which Joe Di Geronimo, the interim assistant superintendent of business services, has recommended to the board.
Di Geronimo estimated this would save the district between $400,000 and $500,000. The restructuring, Di Geronimo believes, does not need to involve layoffs, but would instead mean moving people from the central office to other vacant positions in the district. The district could then save money by not hiring more people.
Vacant positions include a coordinator for special education, bilingual resource teachers and assistant principal-ships.
The board’s meeting on May 25 at 7 p.m. will be closed to the public because the trustees will discuss “specific assignments, transfers and why,” Di Geronimo said.
Board members also said they hope to discuss ways to increase student attendance, which would raise the amount of money coming into the school district. Schools receive money based on the average daily attendance or ADA of students, so if more students come to school, the schools get more money.
“If you can recover all your ADA, you won’t need to restructure anything,” Di Geronimo said.
The problem of losing students is especially evident at the high school, where classes that start with 600 to. 700 first-year students end up with 400 to 500 seniors. Why so many students drop off is something school officials are still trying to find out and correct.
Finding more money is crucial, said Keiko Mizuno, director of fiscal services for GUSD.
“If you have no budget for next year’s salaries for any bargaining group, that’s scary,” she said. ‘That’s not enough.”
Mizuno said that some school districts put money into a special reserve fund for salary increases. GUSD has considered building fixed increases into the budget for next year, but no decision has been made.
“It’s going to be very tight,” Mizuno said.
Trustees did not make any decisions at their study session Monday night when they received the budget information.
At the May 25 meeting, they hope to find out if the $392,600 will be one-time money or if it will be ongoing. If it is not ongoing money, the school district may run into problems keeping up with salary increases and funding programs for the 2000-01 school year unless the state gives more money to schools.

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