Friday, 12 April 2024

Kelseyville Unified officials explain budget challenges to community

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Kelseyville Unified's declining revenue picture. Courtesy of Kelseyville Unified School District.

 


KELSEYVILLE – Unhappy faces filled Kelseyville High School’s Student Center during a special board meeting held this week to discuss California’s budget crisis and its ill effects on Kelseyville Unified School District.


Students, parents, teachers and other Kelseyville Unified staff came to make a statement to the board – that they refuse to settle for anything less than excellence.


About 200 chairs were assembled to accommodate the crowd of concerned citizens expected at the meeting Tuesday evening, but the chairs were half-filled.


For the board and the community members who came to the meeting, the budget crisis was the main concern.


District officials had plenty of bad news to share – from potential job cuts to the fact that the district is now on a state monitoring list.


Board President Rick Winer said the board wasn't planning any action Tuesday.


After a brief introduction, Superintendent David McQueen took the floor and began a slide show presentation. The audience followed along with copies that were offered in the form of a thick packet.


The very first slide was a collage of news bits about various California schools districts’ woes. The slide noted that class prep was being cut at Ukiah Unified, where they are getting five furlough days and coaches stipends are being eliminated. In the Willits Unified School District, they're giving notice to more than 100 teachers, eliminating class size reduction as well as music and art. And the list went on.


“It is amazing – the amount of districts facing these issues,” said McQueen. “There have been a lot of school closures.”


Aside from the well-known elimination of programs, such as the cost of living fund, another factor contributing to the struggle the education system endures that was discussed was how people and businesses are leaving the state, straining California’s economy to the breaking point.


“The state has reduced instructional days and allowed schools to go back to a 175-day school year,” McQueen said.


“Since the recession began, school districts have been cut approximately $400 per student per year in revenue limit funding,” he said.


The presentation was filled with easy-to-read graphs to show the true impacts of the budget crisis and how Kelseyville Unified has come to its lowest point on its revenue scale.


McQueen then handed the microphone over to Tiffany Kemp, the district's chief financial officer, who reviewed revenue limit cuts and their effects on the district.


The first item she wanted to clarify was what “ADA” – “average daily attendance” – means.


“It’s actual days of butts in the seats,” said Kemp.


In 2003, 1,872 students were enrolled; now there’s only 1,739. Enrollment numbers are projected to continue to fall, Kemp said.


As a sample ratio, Kemp explained that if a student attends 175 days out of a 180-day school year, that generates 0.972 ADA.


As another example – not using actual figures – if the revenue limit for the school district was $6,000, the district would only get that number divided by the ADA percentage. So they would only qualify to get $5,832 – not what they needed to have to spend.


Kemp said that because the reduction in revenues from the state was simultaneous with the district’s ongoing spending, Kelseyville Unified is facing a $1.9 million ongoing deficit.


“This year and next year, we’re surviving off of one-time government funds and our reserves,” she said. “We can’t continue to function at that level.”


In fiscal year 2008-09, one-time monies reinvigorated the struggling school systems, but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are running out.


When McQueen spoke again, he discussed the district's future.


There are cash flow issues on top of less cash flowing, he said.


“In balancing the budget over the 2010-12 school years, we must realize that reductions need to be ongoing,” said McQueen. “The more we can reduce in ongoing expenses up front to attack the $1.9 million deficit in the next two years, the bigger impact we’ll see down the road. But, it is such a huge amount there is no way I see us tackling the whole $1.9 million.”


He further explained how Kelseyville Unified is now on a state monitoring list and may be at risk for negative certification. They may be assigned a fiscal advisor and even need county intervention if these trends do not improve.


McQueen also made it clear that Kelseyville Unified has nearly exhausted its reserve funds. One idea the district considered a total cut of transportation, but it was quickly dismissed since it would directly affect ADA.


Other methods of generating revenue are in the works. Fees will most likely be implemented for sports if sports programs are to continue. Transportation is another possible source of revenue using fees.


“The reality is, for 2010-11 we are looking at possibly laying off 11 to 13 certificated positions and 11 to 14 classified positions,” McQueen said.


Shortly after that note, the floor was opened up to the audience, who were invited to step up to the podium with a question or statement for the board.

 

 

 

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Finley resident Philip Murphy suggested the district make

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