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Woodside: Layoffs help school balance budget

Woodside Elementary School should be able to eke out a balanced budget for the coming year, largely thanks to staff layoffs approved earlier this year. The school board voted June 10 to approve a $7.28 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 — 4.5 percent smaller than the current year's budget.

Revenue in the new fiscal year is projected to be $7.3 million, down 3 percent from the year that ended June 30.

The single-school district trimmed expenses largely because property tax revenues are projected to grow at a slower rate in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The Woodside district is also bracing itself for a drop in state funding due to California's budget crisis, but the amount of those cuts is unknown.

"This is the first year we've really faced a challenge," said former superintendent/principal Dan Vinson, who retired June 16. The budget is built on conservative estimates for property tax revenues, which are projected to increase 4 percent, he said.

The district's financial forecasts show the district facing budget cuts not just this year, but in the following two years as well, if property tax revenues continue to grow at only 4 percent. If property taxes climb by 6 percent annually, the district will break even, according to the analysis.

Plumping up the district's bottom line is a $1.8 million grant from the Woodside School Foundation, which accounts for almost 25 percent of the district's projected revenues.

A plan to lay off staff, approved by the board this spring, should save the school more than $300,000 in the new budget. The staff cuts include the elimination of a part-time English learning specialist, changing a full-time counselor to a half-time position, and a small reduction of hours for a science position.

The board also eliminated a full-time accountant, and a full-time network administrator job was replaced by a cheaper technology specialist position.

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