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Arcohe Union School District struggles with $150,000 deficit

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Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:04 am, Wed May 23, 2012.

The superintendent of the tiny Herald school district is searching for $150,000 in ongoing cuts to balance the 2012-13 budget after trustees there denied two motions to layoff teachers.

But Arcohe Union School District Superintendent Jim Shock does not know where the money will come from.

Meanwhile, an anonymous person or group is circulating a flyer threatening that the lone school in the district will be shuttered.

Like other local school districts, electives including music, physical education and sports have been cut in recent years due to state budget shortfalls. Teaching staff, too, is at bare-bones levels, Shock said.

A few years ago, four of its 23 teacher positions were eliminated.

Unlike neighboring Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, which has discussed the option, Arcohe is not in the position to eliminate transportation, as its students are bused from miles away, according to Shock.

The district encompasses about 88 square miles.

Shock said even students who live 200 yards from the campus do not have a safe route to walk to school as there are no sidewalks in the rural area.

He has not seen the flyer, which also encourages recipients to attend a June 12 school district budget hearing, but said school closure is not an option.

"We are not closing the school," he said when asked about the possibility.

The district's annual budget is $2.5 million, and is among the smallest in Sacramento County. Comparatively, Galt elementary's is $31 million.

Arcohe's school board already approved reducing the hours of five classified employees and eliminated a technology aide and a bus driver to save money, but trustees could not agree to lay off teachers, with the most recent denial coming last week.

Board president Scott Smith could not be reached for comment.

Shock said the district may be forced to dip into its reserves, at least for 2012-13. Because of its size, Arcohe is required to keep 8 percent of its annual budget in reserves, compared to the 3 percent requirement for larger districts such as Lodi Unified.

But beyond next year, according to Shock, there is not enough left in reserves to sustain the $150,000 deficit.

The school board will hold a budget study session June 12 to discuss possible cuts for next school year. It is open to the public.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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