Funds to boost schools
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District discovered it had additional funding and fewer expenses as it wrapped up the 2011-12 fiscal year.
At its Sept. 11 school board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese explained that the district had more than $1.16 million in unanticipated revenue, and that expenses came in at $314,000 below budget.
Frese said that the unanticipated income came from property taxes at 1.08 percent for $273,000; unsecured taxes, such as car, plane or boat taxes, for $145,000; excess income from the now defunct Springs Redevelopment Agency for $561,000; interest on the redevelopment money for $89,000; and other state income for $94,000.
The saving on expenses included $115,000 in lower salaries; $177,000 from a soft freeze on supplies in the Spring; and $22,000 in transfers of indirect costs on things such as grant administration.
“The redevelopment money was paid under protest,” Frese told the board.
Frese said the redevelopment money, the unsecured taxes and other state income taxes were one-time monies, but he was encouraged by the rise in property taxes.
“We budgeted for a zero increase in property taxes,” he said. “This is a good trend.”
He said he was going to assume property tax growth this fiscal year at 1 percent and 2 percent in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.
But he warned the board that all could come crashing down if Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, doesn’t pass.
“If the November tax measure fails to pass, Sonoma Valley Unified will suffer an estimated $1.8 million in additional cuts,” he said.
Frese pointed out that while the district received a lot of one-time money, it could lose it all and more if the tax measure doesn’t pass.
“The state also changed the rules in mid-stream and can make the cuts this fiscal year,” he added.
He told the board he wouldn’t prepare the first interim budget until after the results of the November election are known.
Boardmember Dan Gustafson said he was surprised with the additional funds, but added the money would be wiped out if Proposition 30 fails.
Helen Marsh agreed. “We could use the money to cushion the cuts,” she said. “We have more breathing room.”
Teachers’ association president Bob Gossett said the money should be used to get rid of some of the eight furlough days the district has on this year’s calendar.
Frese agreed with Gossett. “We have a budget that is being balanced on the backs of our employees to the tune of eight days,” he added.
In other business, the board heard reports on summer school and the third-grade reading program. It approved items relating to the Consolidation Application and Reporting System; sufficiency of materials and numerous board policies and administrative regulations.