The state budget situation remains unresolved and as maddening as ever.
But we have received a bit more clarity to the situation that I wanted to share
with you (as well as some encouraging news, which Iíll get to in a minute).
First off: I want to assure you that we have sufficient reserves to
cover our payroll through the fiscal year. We are not considering issuing
IOUs, requiring furloughs, or any of the other drastic steps you may have heard
are being undertaken elsewhere.
Also, as you probably know, the federal economic stimulus package is expected
to contain a significant amount of relief for education. The House and the
Senate are still trying to hash out a final product, but it is clear that there
is strong impetus to get it done as quickly as possible.
If the package does come through for education, it will be a welcome infusion
of cashóbut I want to let you know that it wonít be a panacea. The
deficit in California is just too large. So, in Santa Clara County, we
might expect the infusion of federal relief to mitigate our cuts by about half
over the next 18 months.
Bottom line: We still are looking at having to make significant
reductions; but we are in a more hopeful spot than we were just a few weeks ago.
One unfortunate side-effect of the goings-on in Washington can be seen in
Sacramento. The work in the state Capitol to come up with a ridiculously
long-overdue budget has been stalled even further, as legislators essentially
wait for the feds to bail them out.
Of course, as Iíve said before, we at the COE do not have the luxury of
waiting around. By law, we must make plans based on the governorís proposed
budget. Even if the federal package is approved by next week, then pushed
out of Washington D.C. within a month, it would be another month before the
funds were issued out of Sacramento. That takes us to mid-April at the
earliest before we would have a clear idea of how much relief we would receive.
But as you may know, we are bound to notify teachers and administrators of
layoffs by mid-March. Therefore, we will have to issue layoff notices,
with the hope, of course, that we will be able to rescind them soon afterward.
We hope and trust that our financial situation will have clarified before the
deadline to issue layoff notices to other employee classifications, which comes
later in the year.
Now, for the good news I mentioned earlier. Recently I had a
conversation with U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, who represents Californiaís 17th
District. He stated very clearly to me that the intent of the
federal stimulus package is to keep people working, and to put the
unemployed back to work.
That will be our guiding principle as we continue to navigate these difficult
economic times. To the extent we can, we will try to keep people working, and to
fill vacant positions that are essential to the work we do.
The economy cannot revive if people arenít working. So we certainly will do
our part in raising ourselves out of this recession. We are all in this
Thanks to the many staff members who have contributed money-saving ideas to
the Idea Center on our Intranet. The more specific your suggestion
on how we can economize, the better. I promise that every suggestion
you make will receive our careful attention.
As always, thanks for reading.