The Budget Review Committee (BRC) meeting started on time Friday, March 12, with a report on the financial state of the district from Mays Kakish. This was the same report that was presented at the last board meeting.
The budget for the next three years shows the district is operating with deficit spending. The district's budget includes reserves which will be used to cover the deficit spending this year and next. In the third year, 2011/2012, the reserves run out and the district needs to find the funds to cover the remaining deficiency, approx. $3.7 million.
Kakish, the assistant superintendent of business, said we need to begin looking for budgeted funds that could be reduced and used to make up the deficits. We first considered cutting payroll. The three scenarios we considered were:
1) Reduce salaries for all staff, including management
A one percent in salary reduction for all positions = $396,000 in savings
2) Cut payroll by reducing the school year - from 170 days down to 165
One day reduction in the school year = $200,000 in savings
3) Add furlough days for all staff.
One furlough day for all positions = $200,000 in savings
The committee considered if starting cuts before the third year would be agreeable and all parties seem to agree. This would enable smaller cuts that would be spread out over two years softening the blow.
After some number crunching of different mix of the scenarios to cutting payroll, Mrs. Kakish asked for my opinion of the options she had presented. I told the committee that I believed our kids have already had enough services cut and I was not comfortable with reducing any more instructional time. I told Mrs. Kakish that I didn't feel the two options she presented were the only areas we should be looking at cutting.
This lead to a discussion of where else we should look. I asked if we could temporarily eliminate all staff development, teacher training. I also asked that any money budgeted for technology could be paid for with Measure Z funds.
Board President, David Sanchez asked to get a look at a list of Tier 3, categorical funds. I learned these are the flexible funds that the district has some discretion in allocating. For example, the money the district receives for each student that qualifies for GATE (Gifted and Talented) program funding is transferred to the general funds when the district eliminated the GATE program. The state still provides school district funds for each qualified GATE student and the governor authorized school districts the flexibility to use these funds for general fund obligations and districts are not required to provide any programs for the GATE kids. Our district took the governor up on this offer and eliminated the GATE programs.
As we wound up the meeting, Mrs. Kakish said she was opened to any suggestions and that she would try and provide all the information we need.