The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has adopted a $109.8 million budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which began Saturday, July 1st.

The budget is up $2 million from last year’s budget at $107.8 million.

At the school board meeting Thursday, June 29th, district assistant superintendent and chief financial officer Winston Braham noted that the district is in “reasonably sound” condition.

“Reserves are in place,” Braham said. “This is very important.”

Expenditures for the 2006-2007 fiscal year include:

– $54.8 million for certified salaries, 50 percent of the budget;

– $19.3 million for classified salaries, 18 percent;

– $21.4 million for employee benefits, 20 percent; and

– $10 million for services and other operating costs.

Revenue streams include:

– $66.6 million from state average daily attendance (ADA) funding, 62 percent of the budget;

– $15.7 million from other state funding, 14 percent;

– $10.3 million from parcel taxes, nine percent;

– $6.4 million from the City of Santa Monica, six percent; and

– $4.6 million from the federal government, four percent.

With all of the necessary expenditures and not enough revenue, the district will end up with a $621,333 deficit.

Still, Braham said that the district’s deficit is “on a downward trend” and that this is positive.

The operating deficit of $621,333 shows the “downward trend in the district’s deficit spending — from $4.4 million in the 2002-03 fiscal year to a multi-year 2007-08 projection of [an] $84,000 operating deficit,” Braham said.

The projected district enrollment for 2006-07 is 11,986 and the count was 12,191 for the year just ended. The 205 student decline translates to approximately $1.2 million less in the revenue stream, Braham said.

Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association president Harry Keiley spoke at the meeting, specifically noting teacher salaries.

“We have to look at the fact that it takes 25 years [for a teacher] to make $78,000,” he said.

The average teacher salary is $60,000, he said.

In addition, the board expressed approval of the appointment of Dr. Ilene Straus as senior director of secondary education.

“I think Dr. Straus is absolutely the right person for this position,” board president Julia Brownley said. “I think that she will be very beneficial. She is extraordinarily knowledgeable.”

Straus was principal of Santa Monica High School for four years and 16 years at Lincoln Middle School.

On Friday, June 30th, — the day after the meeting approving the 2006-2007 budget — the board issued a letter reassuring the community that the board, teachers and other school administrators “remain dedicated to the ongoing and smooth operation of our schools and to high quality instruction for all students.”

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