MERCED — When it was feared Proposition 30 wouldn't pass and the Merced City School District faced multimillion-dollar budget cuts, some financial options being mentioned were severe.
Those drastic measures included closing a school and cutting instructional days. None of those will happen because school funding is now expected to stay the same or modestly increase.
Relief was the operative word Tuesday night as administrators briefed the Board of Education about Gov. Jerry Brown's latest funding proposals -- explained earlier in the day during Sacramento budget workshops.
"For the first time in a long time they weren't talking about how much less we would be getting from the state," Trustee Susan Walsh said. "It's wonderful to have something to celebrate; that was very cheerful."
While the financial picture won't be cemented until the Legislature acts on Brown's funding proposal and he issues his May budget revisions, it appears the state will pay the school district $81 more for each pupil in the 2013-14 fiscal year. The 17-school district has more than 10,000 pupils.
"We are going to maintain, and that's a good thing," Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran said. "We will have to wait and see, but I think we will be OK. As far as closing a school or furlough days, we don't need to go there."
California voters Nov. 6 passed Proposition 30, which increased the state sales tax. Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services, said this likely will reduce the amount of state deferrals of what's owed to school districts, improving cash flow.
"We're celebrating because it's not a loss," Spicer said.
Board President Adam Cox said there still are a lot of unknowns with the governor's funding picture.
He expects the district to conduct more budget study sessions for parents, staff members and residents in February or March during planning for the 2013-14 budget.
"It's not a decrease, so, hey!" Cox said of the latest state budget news.
Actual per-pupil support numbers may change when Brown's May budget revisions are disclosed. Comparing current school funding formulas with those proposed by the governor is like trying to compare apples and oranges, he added.
Walsh, in her sixth year as a trustee, said this is the first time deficits weren't mentioned in budget briefings. She said the governor's approach seems to serve kindergarten through 12th grade education well.
No school closings are anticipated this year or the next, Walsh said. Any closing decisions likely will follow completion of a facilities master plan now under way.
Duran said educators learned during the Sacramento briefing that federal education funding could be reduced by 5.9 percent.
She said estimating funding now is still speculative and it will take time for the state's schools to get back to 2007-08 levels -- a Brown objective.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.