District funding is based primarily on average daily attendance money, given by the state for each day a student is in school. And Tracy Unified lost more than 100 students this year at the middle school level.
According to Casey Goodall, the assistant superintendent for business services, Monte Vista Middle School’s enrollment went from 879 students to 828 this year, while Williams Middle School’s enrollment dropped from 1,191 to 1,120. He said he had no idea what caused the decline.
With fewer students, Goodall said, the district is looking at a loss of $658,752, which is a figure calculated by the county office of education. He said that equals about $441 per student.
Goodall said Tracy saw a 6 percent annual growth in student enrollment in the years after World War II, but that number dropped during the economic downturn in 2007-08. At that time, Tracy Unified lost 150 to 200 students, he said.
Last year, the numbers were stable, and during the previous two years, local schools enrolled about 50 fewer students annually, compared with a drop of 122 this year at the middle schools alone.
At the high school and elementary levels, however, the changes in enrollment were less dramatic, he said.
Tracy Unified Superintendent James Franco said the district will make every effort to assure that children attend school each day. A 98 percent attendance rate is the stated goal.
Goodall said the reality is usually closer to 95 percent attendance. The numbers are tracked by each school principal and differ from school to school.
During the district’s board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 28, Goodall said Tracy Unified and other districts across the state are depending on Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative to help them out financially.
Proposition 30, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, would increase income taxes by 3 percent on households earning more than $1 million; by 2 percent on households earning $600,000 to $1 million; and by 1 percent on households earning $500,000 to $600,000. All those increases are slated to expire after seven years.
The initiative would also increase the state’s sales tax by a quarter-cent per dollar spent for four years.
Goodall said Brown needs the tax, which is estimated by Brown’s office to raise about $8 billion in additional revenues early next year, to balance the state budget.
If a majority of voters approves the tax initiative, Goodall said, state officials have promised to make no further reductions in funding for kindergarten through 12th-grade education. He said that would guarantee that Tracy Unified would maintain a fiscally sound budget for the next three fiscal years. He said the district could deal with reductions of $275.36 per student in average daily attendance funding without making further cuts.
Without the initiative, though, Tracy Unified might have to make $4 million in cuts as of July, which Goodall described as a “pretty devastating reduction.”
According to an Aug. 22 poll by University of Southern California, 55 percent of likely voters who were surveyed said they supported Prop. 30, Goodall said. He said the people he had spoken with ranged from those who had never heard of Prop. 30 to those who knew a little about it.
Board member Walter Gouveia said that without Prop. 30 funds, 180 school districts across the state would find themselves in receivership next year. Receivership is a process in which local school officials are no longer in charge and state-appointed officials take over day-to-day operation of schools.
“We’re not one of the 180,” board member James Vaughn stressed. “We’re in good shape.”
But Goodall said that without some form of tax support, 1,000 school districts will be in receivership in two years, and all of the state’s districts would probably end up in that situation by the third year.
At the next Tracy Unified board meeting, scheduled for Sept. 11, Goodall said he would return with an update on the district’s finances after officials complete their annual audit.
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