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Sonoma County sorts through governor's revised budget proposal

Public schools got a $3 billion boost from Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday, but Sonoma County educators remained cautious about their budget prospects.

Human services officials also pointed to benefits and takeaways for children in the governor's revised $88.8 billion spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

"It's a mixed bag," said Steve Herrington, Sonoma County schools superintendent.

Put simply, the $3 billion is payback for about one-fourth of the $13 billion in school payments deferred by the state since 2007, Herrington said.

The remaining $10 billion owed to schools, he said, hinges on whether state lawmakers — and ultimately voters — approve tax extensions which the governor said are essential to his budget plans.

Without the tax extensions, deeper school budget cuts will be necessary, Herrington said.

Chris Heller, principal of Analy High School in Sebastopol, said he was hopeful the additional funding would rescind layoffs at his school.

Six Analy teachers have been notified of reduced work hours, he said. But Heller is not sure exactly how the budget would impact local schools, especially given the uncertain fate of the tax extensions.

"I am just happy it's not another cut," Heller said.

Carey Wheaton, a member of a group called Save Our Schools 2011, said the grassroots lobbying effort would continue.


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