The Cloverdale Unified School District Board of Trustees approved the 2019-20 budget on June 26.
The budget was approved in a 3-0 vote (Eric Higginbothom and Preston Addison were absent). The budget primarily involves a three-year general fund summary, which covers 2019-20, as well as general fund projections for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The projected beginning fund balance for the 2019-20 school year is $2.39 million and the projected ending fund balance is $1,980,164. This indicates that the district will be operating at a loss of $405,371.
The budget does not include the pay for CUSD teachers, since negotiations will be mediated in August, and operates off of a flat enrollment projection of 1,375 students.
The budget was initially presented by Chief Business Official Patricia Mills during a June 19 public hearing; Mills didn’t have an update to the budget as of June 26.
The budget projections include: a Special Education Local Plan Area program cost increase of $275,000; liability insurance increase of $44,000 and an additional $44,000 increase in the 2020-21 budget; $30,000 increase in water bill; $18,700 increase in disposal; and a decrease in electricity by $15,000.
The 2019-20 budget projection also includes a $44,000 transfer from the general fund to the district’s cafeteria fund.
“This is an unacceptable number, so we are looking at our meal price — which was out of whack compared to other districts. That would take up about $15,000 of that,” Superintendent Jeremy Decker said during the June 19 public hearing. “We’ve also looked at staffing — we’re pretty bare bones unless you want to add more to someone’s schedule. We need to sell probably for a higher amount, and we need to make sure we have a lot of kids eating the food that we make. This isn’t something that we’re not looking at.”
An increase in cafeteria prices was brought to the board on June 26.
The 2019-20 projected budget also shows a payoff of the district’s land lease and Prop 39 lease with bond funds.
“The reason we did that is because when this (budget) was originally built, we were showing as qualified in 2021-22. Qualified means you can’t meet the 3% reserve that’s mandated by the state,” Decker said, explaining why that was included in the budget. “In order to meet our 3% reserve we had to relook at our budget and because this (the money to pay the land lease) was coming from our general fund, we said, ‘Well, we need to show that this would be paying’ so our general fund would be higher and we wouldn’t be below that 3% threshold. We didn’t want to show as a qualified district, because that’s not in the best interest of the district.”
Looking forward to the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, the former has a beginning fund balance of $1.98 million and an end balance of $1.56 million (operational loss of $416,174). The latter has a projected beginning balance of $1.56 million and an ending balance of $1.27 million (operational loss of $297,950).
For the upcoming year, the district projects it will meet its state required 3% reserve and district-sought 5% reserve. However, it’s projecting that it won’t meet the 5% reserve in 2020-21 and 2021-22 — but will meet the 3%
“Just to be clear, 65 students equates to about $720,000,” Decker said. “So add those 65 students and you could flip that. We’re funded by students, ADA (average daily attendance).”
Aside from the general fund, additional district funds have projected beginning balances as follows: $300 for child development; $6,069 in estimated cafeteria inventory; $236,935 in deferred maintenance; $267,099 in technology and classroom furniture replacement; $15.83 million in bond funds; $43,402 in capital facilities developer fund; $511,134 in the county school facilities fund; $10 in a special reserve for capital outlay projects.
“We know we’re hoping for kids. We’re hoping for kids to come from the developments happening in town … if that doesn’t happen we are going to really have to look at how we’re spending,” Decker said.
During the public hearing and again at the June 26 meeting, teachers questioned the district regarding what money-saving methods they’re looking into. Some, like Washington School teacher Casey Berry, suggested the district entertain less grand ways of cutting down costs — like switching to reusable trays in the lunch room rather than disposable ones. Berry said that reusable trays are used in summer school and, with student help cleaning, doesn’t require additional staff hours to use. Switching to reusable trays, Berry said, would decrease both cafeteria costs and waste cost.