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State budget revision encouraging news, school district staff say

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Posted: Thursday, June 3, 2004 10:00 pm

Lodi Unified School District staff reported encouraging signs from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised budget proposal, citing that the plan creates some opportunities for the district and has avoided the most serious and deep cuts many feared would come.

"Encouraged is the word," said Douglas Barge, LUSD's chief business officer. "In a negative world, it's positive."

The revised budget plan calls for a 2.41 percent cost of living adjustment for state programs across the board, up from the previous recommendation of a 1.84 percent cost of living adjustment. This increase will provide $758,000 of new revenue for the school district.

"The (cost of living adjustment) increase is encouraging," Barge said.

Barge said he was also excited about a proposal to add up to $192 million statewide for library resources and instructional materials. The May revise proposes $95 million in funding for school and classroom libraries and $97 million in diverted California State Lottery funds toward spending for instructional materials.

Barge said patience is key in the proceedings, however, as the arrival of more than $600,000 in estimated equalization funds for the district is uncertain, pending state budget resolution.

"The equalization dollars are up in the air," Barge said.

Now that the district staff has analyzed the current state of the proposed budget, it will go ahead with its own budget using those current assumptions about what money will be available. Barge said the district will only make adjustments to its own budget plan when the state budget is signed by the governor.

Barge, who has worked as the district's chief business officer for four years, said this budget season has been much easier than last year, though not as easy as his first two years. As for the future, Barge said he has measured optimism.

"If the economy keeps getting better and if they state finally fixes its problems, then there is a positive outlook," he said.

Contact reporter Tom Hall at tomh@lodinews.com.

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