About $2.1 million in mid-year cuts to the schools' $162.4 million operating budget came atop $2.7 million in reductions made at the start of the 2011-12 budget cycle.
Cuts approved this week include $889,000 in personnel, utilities and food service; $389,000 in "routine maintenance allocation"; $200,000 in staff development budget for summer activities and $338,000 in per-student allocation of school site funds.
However, the site-specific reductions will not affect this year's classrooms because they will come from site reserve funds, the district's Business Official Cathy Mak assured board members.
Mak will return to the board in May with proposed cuts for the 2012-13 school year.
School funding for Palo Alto — excluding locally raised money — has declined by $808 per student, 6 percent, since 2008-09, Mak reported Tuesday, even more than the $788 per student she reported on Feb. 28. The current per-pupil allotment is $12,215.
The per-student reduction is a consequence of enrollment increases outpacing growth in property tax receipts, as well as state funding cuts. Mak said she expects the school district will face "large structural deficits" for the next five years, particularly if proposed tax measures expected to be on this November's ballot are voted down.
However, the district has squirreled away surpluses for the past three years, growing its "undesignated fund balance" from $3.1 million at the end of 2008-09 to $12.9 million at the end of 2010-11. Those funds came from one-time windfalls such as federal stimulus funding.
The district has used the surplus to cushion the reductions and uncertainties in the state income and property-tax picture.