HESPERIA Although Gov. Jerry Brown cutting school bus funds in half in the middle of the school year has gotten most of the headlines of late, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Gary Thomas says the state's been making things harder for school districts in another way: by making them use credit to pay their bills.


One out of every five dollars that goes through the state of California before ending up in local school district coffers is being deferred until later. The state still tells districts they'll pay what they're owed just later.


"I used to say in the school business that cash is king," Thomas told the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce at their monthly luncheon on Monday. "Now, credit is king. ... You have to borrow money to make payroll."


And districts have to add credit processing fees to expenses at a time when their revenues are already sharply down.


"I can't tell you how painful the last four years in education have been," Thomas said.


Some 63 percent of school districts have cut staff in the last three years, according to the superintendent.


Still, on Dec. 13, Brown announced that California's budget had not performed up to the level forecast in the budget approved earlier in the year and that he was invoking pre-arranged budget cut triggers. Among the triggers: $248 million in cash paid to local school districts to help pay for busing, or about half of the total amount paid out each year.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com.