The financial woes at the Sonoma Valley Unified School District may not be as dire as earlier projections, say district officials.
Bruce Abbott, the district’s associate superintendent of business services, told the school board at a March 6, meeting that with the proposed staff reductions and improved revenue, the financial condition of the district looks better.
“The expected bottom line of the district will be significantly better than expected both this year and next year due to unexpected one-time funds,” he said in a memo.
He told the board that the district will be in what he termed “slight deficits” for three years before moving to a positive balance in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
“We’re starting to catch up,” he said. “Some of these cuts should have been done last year.”
He said the deficit spending was because the district had one-time money where the spending was spread out over two or three years.
In 2013-14, the district received $850,000 to implement common core standards to be spent over a two-year period, and also set aside $1.85 million in one-time funds to be spent over a three-year span.
“We are a year behind in making the required reductions,” the memo said.
Abbott presented a five-year financial projection that assumed a 4 percent annual growth in property taxes; $400,000 annually in Redevelopment Agency redistribution; flat federal revenues; a step and column movement in salaries; health-care costs increasing at 6 percent annually; STRS and PERS, the state retirement system for classified and teachers respectively, level off in 2022-23; and supplies and services increased by the Consumer Price Index.
Board member John Kelly suggested the projections include a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for district employees and thought the 4 percent growth in property taxes could be overly optimistic. And Kelly thought with the potential demise of Obamacare, that a 9 percent hike in health-care costs would be closer.
Abbot told the board that the district will be back in basic aid, at least for the foreseeable future.
Basic aid means the district will receive its funding through property taxes instead of through the state’s LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula). The LCFF fills the gap between property taxes and what the state promises.
“We’ll be $400,000 into basic aid,” he said. “And by 2022-23, we’ll be $1.6 million into basic aid. We’re not deep in basic aid – but we’re in.”
He said that being in basic aid takes the pressure off enrollment, since the state pays based on average daily attendance.
Abbot will present a more complete financial presentation to the board at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. today, at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.
The board will also take up the question of personnel cutbacks at the meeting, to cut $2.5 million from next year’s budget. The board could have voted on the cuts at the March 6 meeting, but because it didn’t see the proposal until sometime the day before, it postponed the vote.
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