UNION CITY — New Haven school board members learned this week they may have to slash another $5.7 million in the next several months, which would bring the total amount of cuts since last spring to about $12.7 million.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal for more cuts to help balance the state budget would force New Haven trustees to cut an additional $4 million from its current budget and $1.7 million from its 2009-10 budget, Ted Hood, the district's chief business officer, told the board Tuesday night.
Although the midyear cuts are largely the result of the current recession, school officials also are fed up with what they say are inherent flaws in how the state's spending plan is developed — a problem that was not remedied during the record budget stalemate last fall.
Now, in response to what many perceive as decades of political posturing by both Democrats and Republicans — leading to habitual tardiness in passing a state budget by the annual June 15 deadline — the school board on Tuesday also voted unanimously to adopt a resolution condemning the governor and Legislature.
The resolution called on Schwarzenegger to request that the California Citizens Compensation Commission and the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board dock the pay of legislators if they don't pass a budget by June 15.
For each day a budget is late, the amount a legislator would receive — equivalent to a day's salary, benefits compensation and per-diem pay — would be permanently forfeited.
While many factors have led to the state's financial crisis, it doesn't help that "legislators won't compromise; in fact, they don't seem willing to even have meaningful conversations until well after they create their annual crisis," Superintendent Kari McVeigh said in a statement. "All of them should have to attend a local school board meeting, where elected officials actually have to make decisions — and do so against state-mandated deadlines."
Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, who represents the district that includes the Tri-City area, said he shares in the frustration that voters are feeling.
"I have two kids myself, one of them in school," Torrico said.
"Democrats have put forth proposals to balance the budget in the spirit of shared sacrifice, making cuts in some areas, and we have tried to raise revenues, but Republicans refuse to vote for any (taxes)," he said. "I hope both sides can come out of their comfort zones and do what needs to be done."
Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, could not reached for comment.
Although school officials are hoping the proposed cuts won't turn out to be as Draconian as what's been reported, administrators in New Haven have begun cutting back on expenses.
The district has imposed a freeze on new hires, overtime pay, credit card use and travel and conference expenses, for example, district spokesman Rick La Plante said.
District personnel also have identified $2 million in "categorical funds" — money that typically is earmarked for specific use only — that they may be able to transfer into the general fund.