Summerville budget strong despite cuts

June 19, 2003 11:00 pm

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

Despite thousands of dollars in cuts and more on the way, Summerville Elementary School's budget looks pretty good, the school's superintendent, Leigh Shampain, said.

"We did a lot of cuts beforehand — over $70,000 worth of cuts," he said.

Summerville School's Board of Trustees are to vote on a preliminary budget Monday. Shampain said the budget is based on the worst-case scenario, but is still workable.

Eight classified and two part-time certificated staff members were laid off, easing the funding crunch, but more trouble is on the way. Shampain said Title I funding, money used for working with low-performance students, will be cut by $70,000 to $80,000 in the coming year. The funding is based on the district's poverty level as assessed by the 2000 census. According to the numbers, the area's poverty level dropped from 29 percent to 9 percent.

Shampain said he thinks the data is flawed and incorrect.

"Just to give you a sense of the poverty level, the city of Burlingame has a 9.6 percent poverty level, and you can't touch a house there for less than a million dollars," he said. "In Tuolumne City, you can get a house for about $125,000. Our poverty level is definitely greater than Burlingame's."

Shampain and the school district trustees appealed to the U.S. Census Bureau, asking for a recount, but were denied.

Other school districts might be in the same boat and not even know it yet, Shampain said. He only discovered the district's apparent wealth because he was applying for a library grant, also based on the district's poverty level.

Other districts in the state might not find out about their own changed poverty level and subsequent funding until August, he said.

"I don't think a lot of people know that their funding is going to drop significantly because of the 2000 Census," he said.

But by preparing for the worst, Shampain said he thinks Summerville can weather the state's projected $38 billion shortfall.

"We've done pretty well financially by being prudent," he said.