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CUSD's growth saving it from big budget cuts
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As neighboring school districts struggle to plan their budgets around the state's budget deficit, Ceres Unified finds itself better prepared to deal with the financial crisis.

Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed state budget calls for $4.8 billion in education cuts.

"Ceres Unified has experienced rapid growth in the last three years," said Superintendent Walt Hanline. "As a result, the district is not as vulnerable to budget cuts as are school districts that are experiencing declining or stagnant enrollment.

"In addition, the district has not concluded labor negotiations with its two represented employee groups. Ceres Unified School District is committed to avoiding program reductions and layoffs during this challenging time. The district will not make financial compensation offers in negotiations that will jeopardize this goal."

CUSD officials will be meeting with Ceres Unified Teachers Association this month and California School Employees Association Chapter 140 in April to discuss staff salaries for this year and 2008-09.

Ceres Unified plans to use $2.5 million in one-time-only state funding from last year to cover cost-of-living allowances (COLAs) for 2007-08.

"The money's there for this year," Hanline said. "I can't see how we're going to agree on salaries for next year because we don't know what's going to happen."

"We're planning to proceed forward with no program reductions or layoffs," added Scott Siegel, assistant superintendent of business services.

Ceres Unified's projected enrollment will increase by 43 students, from 11,883 to 11,926, in 2008-09.