Lodi Unified School District officials believe they may have found a way to break the ongoing cycle of teacher layoffs, which has resulted in a decrease in programs and an increase in class sizes.
"One of the main goals is to get out of this layoff cycle, and I think we can do that," board President George Neely said, adding that he believes the budget will be balanced with an ongoing deficit.
Trustees will discuss the 2011-12 budget at their regular meeting on Tuesday. No vote is expected.
"We want to adhere to a certain class level for the next two or three years and anticipate the budget shortfalls," trustee Bonnie Cassel said, adding that maintaining that balance is crucial since districts can no longer rely on state revenue. That money continues to be deferred month after month.
At a study session last week, trustees gave direction regarding staffing levels for 2011-12, but Neely hopes what the budget staff is working on will change the future.
However, even with layoffs and other cuts for next school year, ongoing costs such as retirement benefits and disability insurance will continue to go up roughly $1.7 million annually, according to Chief Business Official Tim Hern.
Neely was part of a district contingent that met with state officials in Sacramento last month for a briefing on the governor's budget revision. It increases state education funding by $3 billion, according to representatives from the state department of education.
He said that after hearing the state's plan, he is cautiously optimistic about the district's budget.
Among other things, trustees are looking at reducing the number of combination classes.
In February, the board voted to issue 177 pink slips to certificated staff. They did, however, approve bringing back a number of non-teaching positions, including counselors and vice principals.
It is the third consecutive year the district has faced massive cuts due to a reduction in state funding coupled with lower student attendance rates.
This year, however, trustees sought public input earlier and held more meetings regarding finding other reductions before Hern's staff started work on a draft budget.
Tuesday's regular board meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the James Areida Education Support Center, 1305 E. Vine St. The budget is expected to be adopted at the June 21 school board meeting.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.