Merced Union High School District OKs $87.3M budget

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJune 30, 2013 

CW El Capitan High Construction nearing end

CHRISTOPHER WINTERFELDT/cwinterfeldt@mercedsunstar.com The El Capitan High Gauchos logo is finished on the school's gym floor, as the construction of the campus nears completion on Friday (5-17-13) in Merced. The $90 million campus is expected to be finished next month. ECHS is due to open in August, initially serving freshmen and sophomores.

CHRISTOPHER WINTERFELDT

— By a split vote, Merced Union High School District trustees this week approved an $87.3 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Numbers may change, possibly upward, once the governor and state Legislature agree on state spending.

At a special board meeting Monday, trustee Dave Honey voted against the budget, which projects a $3.3 million deficit.

Honey said over the next three years, projections show the district will spend $14 million more than it takes in.

"We've got to balance the budget," Honey said. "We haven't put enough money in deferred maintenance, technology and curriculum. Employees haven't had a raise since 2007."

Board President Ida Johnson said the district isn't as bad off this year as it was last year.

"The state promises millions," Johnson said. "Everything's lined up. All I wanted is in there (budget) and I feel good about it."

Leonard Kahn, assistant superintendent for business, said the board will be informed about changing funding pictures from the state in a couple of weeks.

"We fully intend to revise or re-present the budget once numbers are known," Khan said. "I expect the large operating deficit to be substantially mitigated or possibly eliminated."

Trustee Dora Crane said the district is waiting for Local Control Funding Formula figures to come in and will have to make adjustments when it's known what the state is going to do.

"We anticipate getting more money, which will be very good for the district and for the students," Crane said.

Honey said the district needs to bite the bullet and cut back on expenses. He said enrollment projections are far too optimistic and fall student figures will be 187 lower than in the spring.

"You can't rely on the state," Honey said. "The economy is still too fragile. I think we shouldn't fill vacant positions. It's time we recognize this; there has got to be some sanity."

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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