Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sacramento City Unified may have budget cuts from coronavirus | The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento City Unified may have budget cuts from coronavirus | The Sacramento Bee

Coronavirus crisis may mean more cuts to Sacramento school district’s already battered budget

The Sacramento County Office of Education delivered another negative certification to Sacramento City Unified School District’s revised budget, after the district also gave itself a negative certification, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic may result in more revenue shortfalls that could require state budget reductions.
“In light of the recent situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty of how this will affect the economy, state revenues, and state funding, state budget cuts may be coming as soon as the 2020-2021 budget year,” read a letter sent to the district on Wednesday from county superintendent David Gordon. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that the district and its bargaining partners work together to agree on resolving the $27 million budget shortfall, and insure fiscal solvency by building reserves and eliminating deficit spending.”
It’s unclear how school districts across California will be affected by potential state budget reductions, but Sacramento City Unified’s $27 million budget gap could grow significantly.

County school officials concurred with the negative certification of the district’s second interim report, because the district will fall short by $14.2 million in 2021-2022, leaving the district with a $2 million negative balance.

School districts are required to have a minimum reserve two years in advance, including the 2021-22 fiscal year.
The report said that without further budget restrictions, the district will have a negative balance of $19.5 million in November 2021.
While the district identified more than $31 million in prospective budget reductions, it will need to negotiate with its labor partners to make such changes.
Gordon called the lack of progress in negotiations “crippling.”
“The point we tried to make over in the letters the last 6 to 12 months is that all of this requires cooperation and collaboration,” Gordon told The Sacramento Bee on Friday.
Often at the center of its budget negotiations is the district’s health care benefits, which Gordon said are more generous than the industry standard and could be a source of budget reductions
“Our district was already facing significant budget challenges before the unprecedented health crisis that we find ourselves grappling with now,” read a statement from Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. “That is why – even during this difficult time – we’re asking our labor partners to sit with us at the table to continue negotiations on the high costs of our employee benefits. We know our challenges won’t go away without compromise – even in the face of a crisis.”
The Sacramento City Teachers Association was critical of the district, but also criticized SCOE for “looking away” when Aguilar received a $34,000 pay increase — an amount the district said included health and pension costs.
“SCUSD continues to demonstrate fiscal mismanagement, and SCOE continues to demonstrate an absence of oversight,” read a union statement to The Bee. “The SCOE letter says nothing new.”
Sacramento City Unified may have budget cuts from coronavirus | The Sacramento Bee