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CUSD budget OK'd
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The Ceres School Board on June 26 adopted a preliminary operating budget of $110 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year for Ceres Unified School District.

"We did our budget on Gov. Schwarzenegger's May revision, which is a worst-case scenario," said Scott Siegel, assistant superintendent of business services for CUSD. "We're getting a reduction in funding and no COLA (cost-of-living adjustment). It's not a good budget for education."

Salary and benefits for all employees make up 80 percent of Ceres Unified's total budget.

Projections show an ending balance of $1.5 million in the general fund, down $1.7 million from last year.

"We want to see improvement in that," Siegel said. "If we don't, we'll have to make some changes."

Siegel noted the district's final spending plan would be approved by the Ceres School Board next year after several revisions. Interim reports will also be submitted to the California Department of Education.

"We'll take into account what the state has decided to do at that time," he said. "We're hoping it's positive. I don't think it's going to get worse."

Asked if layoffs and/or program cuts would be required, Siegel said: "Our hope is to avoid things like that, but you can never make that guarantee."

Projected student enrollment for Ceres Unified will be about 11,900 in 2008-09.