Santa Ana Unified School District aims to cut their budget as enrollment drops again

“Enrollment in Santa Ana Unified has fallen for the fifth straight year, down by 1,146 students this fall and a total of 7,300 students since the 2002-03 school year, according to new district figures,” according to the O.C. Register.

Here are a few excerpts from the Register article:

Orange County’s largest school district, which once had an enrollment of more than 61,000 students, now has about 53,700.

“It’s tough for us,” said Donald Trigg, Santa Ana Unified’s associate superintendent of business services. “We are in a state of declining enrollment and that means we have to keep cutting costs.”

Santa Ana Unified receives roughly $5,500 in state funding each year for every student enrolled. That means that the district has lost more than $40 million out of its $500 million budget over the past five years.

The enrollment decline is generally attributed to a dip in birth rate over the last decade. The dip hasn’t yet affected middle or high schools.

Some educators attribute the trend partly to young families escaping the county’s high housing prices and moving inland.

Besides Santa Ana Unified, the Cypress School District and the Huntington Beach City School District also are reporting enrollment declines, losing 320 and 210 students, respectively, this school year.

Why is it that other school districts in Orange County are reporting enrollment declines, but only the Santa Ana Unified School District administrators are panicking? Didn’t their ten year projections show that enrollment was going to drop? Did they not account for kids moving to charter schools, or moving to the Inland Empire?

Where is SAUSD really spending the money? It is well known that the SAUSD administrators who serve on Superintendent Jane Russo’s cabinet all have new offices and new furniture. Is the district shifting money around so that they can waste it in that fashion? Or worse?

SAUSD Trustee John Palacio emailed the following information yesterday:

At its Tuesday, November 13th Board Meeting, the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education will review and vote on proposed Budget Reductions for Fiscal Year 2008-2009.

The Superintendent is recommending nearly $16,000,000 in budget reductions.

Over the past 4 years, SAUSD has experienced over $100,000,000 in budget reductions.

The board meeting starts at 6:00 pm and will be held in the Board Room, SAUSD District Administration Offices, 1601 East Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana.

Palacio asked that anyone with questions call him at 714-542-0589. You can also email him.

From what I hear, the SAUSD administrators are playing games with their budget even as they are supposedly cutting it. They are using grant money to keep high priced administrators paid, while cutting from areas including their school libraries. All of this needs to be closely scrutinized by the community.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.