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Deals with budget uncertainties
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As Governor Brown and the Legislature wrangle over closing the remaining state budget deficit, the delay in crafting a solution places school districts in planning limbo.

By all accounts - due to the failure to come to an agreement over extending existing revenues - Gov. Brown is preparing an all-cuts budget to be unveiled at mid month. School districts will be left with the sad task of planning for this contingency, as well as numerous other possibilities that could produce great harm to current school-age children. The state will reap the consequences of these acts in the decades to come in the form of higher drop out and illiteracy rates, a poorly educated work force and greater costs for welfare and prisons.

Here is a sampling of the solutions proposed by the Legislative Analyst's Office, pundits and the rumor mill:

• Cut 20 to 30 days from the school year. Yes, this could ultimately save billions of dollars through the corresponding furloughs. However, the resulting 10 to 15 percent salary loss for employees will not be able to be negotiated overnight, but more realistically in a year's time, which may be too late to save many districts from bankruptcy. This is not to mention the cost to kids when California has, by far, the shortest school year in the nation.

• Eliminate Class Size Reduction. Since schools are planning now for the next school year, and a budget solution is likely months away, be prepared for absolute chaos if Class Size Reduction is dismantled. School districts which are currently staffing for smaller class sizes would be scrambling to collapse classes and move students, possibly after the school year begins. On the flip side, those districts that collapse classes now will be forced to staff them haphazardly should that funding not be cut.

• Cut revenue limits by $600 to $700 per student. This proposal would save no money as the state would simply pay the savings over in the form of loans for bankrupt school districts.

• Cut revenue limits by $350 per student and defer another $2 billion in funding for schools. Cuts this deep and the continued use of deferrals will result in schools not being able to make payroll. Why? Cash flow and reduced reserves. To a greater and greater extent, the state is paying school districts next year for services provided this year. The solution, borrowing money, is becoming increasingly difficult, not because of anything local districts have done, but because the state's budget shenanigans are making California school districts undesirable to financial markets.

Planning in this environment is becoming nearly impossible, so school districts either do nothing and try to react, or they lay off more employees and cut deeper than ultimately necessary which further erodes employment and consumer confidence. An educated workforce is the cornerstone of both our democracy and a vibrant economy. Providing some semblance of funding predictability would be a prudent investment in our state's future. In this regard, recent legislatures and governors have, inexcusably, failed time and time again to produce answers in a timely fashion. Ironically, the current delay, caused by a desire to not harm California's economy by extending revenues, will instead produce long term and long lasting damage to our students and our commerce.