Prop 30 and Beaumont Unified...Now What Happens?

At last month’s public forum, presented by the Beaumont Unified School Board and leaders from the employee unions, I asked “What if Proposition 30 passes?” I reminded the board they had told us that the reduction of this year’s instructional schedule by 5 days was conditional on the failure of Prop 30. I asked them if the 5 days would be reinstated if Prop 30 passed. As was the format of the evening, no one was required to respond and no one did. Yesterday I saw a Facebook post from a teacher who was expressing her pleasure with the passage of Prop 30 and the reinstatement of the teachers’ furlough days, our kids’ instructional days. I hope our kids’ instructional time is given back to them since Governor Brown promised to release the hostages if Prop 30 passed. I wonder if the board will be able to keep their promise.

Why am I not convinced they will be able to keep their promise? Because none of us know what the fallout will be from the departure of Assistant Superintendent Elatar. Remember Mr. Elatar? In August our school board quietly placed Mr. Elatar on paid administrative leave and claimed that because it was a personnel issue they weren’t able to tell us why. They hired an interim replacement pending the ongoing investigation. Is the investigation over? We don’t know but I noticed Mr. Elatar’s picture has been removed from the district’s website.

Since the board has classified this as a personnel issue, they are unable to discuss it publically. I understand they are protecting the district from legal action by Mr. Elatar but I still think they should alert the public regarding how these actions affect the budget. Our administration and board have shown us in the past they feel very little obligation for transparency regarding our kids resources. I hope Dr. Latham’s new administration will be more transparent but, with an incumbent and former board member returning to the board, I won’t hold my breath. I don’t have time to wait and see so I did a little investigating myself.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

In a board meeting only weeks after Mr. Elatar was put on administrative leave, the board approved another interim budget to submit to the county. In this latest version, I noticed one significant difference from previous budgets, the estimated enrollment figure. The previous interim budget submitted by Mr. Elatar June 19, 2012 estimated the enrollment for 2012/2013 to be 8,584. In the version submitted September 11, 2012 – a couple weeks after Mr. Elatar was put on leave –the estimated enrollment was lowered to 8,188.

Now for my analysis:

Before I get started, I need to remind my readers, some who may not be with familiar with blogs. Blogs are usually an opinion. I have been accused by some of presenting my opinion. Well… that’s what a blog is, an opinion. If you have a different opinion, I will look forward to reading about it in your blog.

This new estimate is a difference of 396 students. If we apply the amount the district receives from the state for the district’s average daily attendance, just about $5,000 – keeping in mind this is a moving target – the total change in revenue the district will receive is almost $2 million. How will the district make this up?

Let’s look at the previous three years of the district’s enrollment:

  • ·         2009/2010 = 7,807 a 1.9% increase over the previous year
  • ·         2010/2011 = 7,965 a 2.0% increase over the previous year
  • ·         2011/2012 = 8,193 a 1.8% increase over the previous year

Mr. Elatar estimated a 4.8% increase over last year’s enrollment. How did he come up with an estimate 2 ½ times larger than any recent increase? Has there been a housing boom in Beaumont that I missed? Did any board member question this assumption before they approved earlier budgets? The district has always told us they make conservative estimates when it comes to budget assumptions, they don’t want any surprises. This doesn’t seem very conservative.

Before I moved to Beaumont, Beaumont Unified was found to have incorrectly over reported attendance figures to the state and was required to payback millions of dollars already received. This created a huge hole for our schools to dig themselves out of and many sacrifices had to be made. It doesn’t appear there has been any incorrect reporting to the state this time. If there had been, would our district claim this was a personnel matter and they don’t have to explain it?

In closing:

I could be all concerned over nothing and all the instructional days will be reinstated, I hope they are. We have Governor Brown’s word that the passage of Prop 30 will result in much of the money that has been deferred and is owed to our schools to be returned this year, but how about next year? I haven’t heard any promises about next year. Might our district decide it will make more sense to keep the furlough days in order to prepare for another budget shortfall next year? I will be watching and keep you posted.