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Rosiest Projections Leave San Diego Schools With $72 Million Deficit

San Diego school officials are hoping for the best as they draw up a draft budget for the next school year.

— San Diego Unified board members got a presentation about what mid-year budget cuts would mean for the district. If revenue projections from the state’s legislative analyst are on track, the district would lose $26 million in state funds as of Feb. 1, according to Ron Little, the district's chief financial officer.

That's an improvement over the worst case scenario of $30 to $32 million in cuts that are possible under the state's budget. Earlier this month the Legislative Analyst's Office released a report predicted state revenues would miss the target set in this year's budget by $3.7 billion. A revenue shortfall would trigger cuts that grow for every billion the state is short up to $4 billion.

Even the $26 million cut would leave the district with a budget gap of up to $97 million for the coming year, Little said. Without mid-year cuts district officials would still face a $72 million shortfall for the 2012-13 school year. Board of Education members have to approve a draft of the 2012-13 budget that accommodates mid-year cuts at their Dec. 13 meeting.

Gov. Jerry Brown will make the final decision on whether to allow mid-year cuts and how severe those cuts will be based on the Legislative Analyst's report and a Dec. 15 report from the Department of Finance. Little said the governor will base his decision on the rosier of the projections. Strong Black Friday sales could soften the blow to San Diego schools by bringing state revenues closer to the target set in this year's budget.

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