WATSONVILLE -- For Pajaro Valley schools, finances haven't looked so good in years.

With the passage of local and statewide measures on Nov. 6, the district can raise $150 million to rebuild and enhance schools and no longer has to worry about the potential loss of $7 million in state funding.

But district leaders sounded a note of caution Wednesday.

"It does signify the beginning of a turnaround in six years of fiscal crisis," said Chief Business Officer Brett McFadden. "Continued caution and careful analysis remains the staple today. We're at a critical juncture."

Proposition 30, the statewide tax measure, doesn't bring the district any new money -- at least in the immediate future, McFadden said. He anticipates flat funding through at least 2013-14. The district also is funded $1,500 per student below where it would be if the recession hadn't led to state cutbacks, he said, calling the level of funding the "new normal."

McFadden said he'll bring detailed budget information to the board in December. But he warned that the district continues to deficit spend and preliminary numbers show the budget about $7 million short by 2015-16. The board will have to act before then, he said.


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Passage of the school bond, however, gives the district an almost instant financial jolt. McFadden anticipates going out to the market with the first $30 million to $40 million in bonds in February. By March, he expects to have architects, project managers and contractors, as well as a bond oversight committee, in place to begin work on improving campuses.

By law, he said, the district has 10 years to spend the $150 million. He aims to complete all projects in six years, dividing the district into three project areas to have construction moving forward on several sites simultaneously.

Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter at Twitter.com/DonnaJonesSCS