The Rowland Unified School District approved a $132.5 million budget on June 25. Next year's budget projects an $8 million deficit that will be covered by the district's $52 million balance going into the next school year.

"The district doesn't want to increase class size or cut more programs," Superintendent Ruben Frutos explained. "So the school board decided to use some of our reserves."

Frutos expects the district to receive $2 million more from the state, now that Governor Jerry Brown has finally signed the state budget. But Rowland has to wait while figures are finalized over the next couple weeks.

"We will also use other cost cutting measures over the next year to cut the deficit down," the top administrator added.

Last year's adopted budget anticipated a $20 million deficit, but actual figures show that deficit shrank to only $2 million. Revenue actually increased $4.5 million than expected, while expenditures were $14 million less than budgeted.

Rowland Unified offered incentives worth $20,000 to encourage teachers and administrators to retire early. It hoped 50 educators would retire.

"We actually had 45 take the early retirement," reported Interim Chief Business Officer Ajay Mohindra. Mohindra added the retirement incentive could save the district up $2.5 million.

"It's good for teachers looking to retire in the next couple years and it's good for the district financially," Frutos said in an earlier interview.

Rowland began the incentive program three years ago, when it offered the $20,000 credit or $15,000 cash to 20 educators. Last year, that number rose to 30 teachers and administrators. This year, it cut the cash option and gave two years service credit.

Salaries and benefits represent 82 percent of the local district's expenditures. Next year, Rowland expects to pay teachers and administrators more than $63 million. Classified employees add another $22 million to the payroll.

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