WINTON -- One of Merced County's smallest school districts will dip into its reserves later this year to stave off diminished funding from the state.
Merced River School District trustees have voted unanimously to tap the reserves for $80,000 to $100,000, depending on state funding levels and the outcome of November ballot initiatives that could increase spending on schools.
Superintendent Helio Brasil said there aren't any positions with the district that could easily be eliminated or done without. The district, which serves the rural Winton and Snelling areas, has eight teachers and 200 students in kindergarten through eighth grades at the Hopeton and Washington elementary campuses.
Trustee Richard Lopez said the district has been fortunate to put money into reserves and it's good they planned years ago for hard times ahead.
The district has $457,834 in special reserves.
By using reserves, the district won't have to have larger class sizes or cut programs, Lopez said. Without the reserves, he said he's not sure what would happen.
Brasil said the district's budget position has been helped in previous years by retiring teachers, whose positions weren't filled. This year, no retirements are anticipated.
The superintendent said he hopes funding will change at the state level, but he said the district can't be positive California voters will approve a bailout for struggling schools. The district's budget is $1.2 million for the current school year.
Trustee Lloyd Pareira Jr. said the district tries to be fiscally conservative.
"Economic times are tough," Pareira said, "but we were fortunate to have reserves. Hopefully, the state Legislature will keep the focus on education and not cut too hard."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.