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Budget Update Q&A: Board to review interim budget report Dec. 19, 2019

Budget Update logo The Folsom Cordova Board of Education will receive its first interim budget report of the fiscal year as the District continues to identify long-term solutions to its budget deficit. 

The first interim report, a summary of which can be viewed here, reflects the $5.3 million in ongoing and one-time cost-cutting measures that have already been approved for the current school year and the following (2020-21) - but forecasts that the District will be in the red more than $4.4 million in the 2021-22 school year without additional reductions.

School districts across California are facing budget deficits as rising costs outpace revenues. Since 2018, Folsom Cordova’s Board of Education has held five budget study sessions and additional Board meetings on the District’s fiscal challenges. To help identify solutions, the District has been working for months with its employee union leaders, staff, families, and students to identify reductions that can minimize staff layoffs and avoid impacts to student learning. 

Below are some answers to common questions: 

What is an interim report? School districts are required, at a minimum, to provide interim financial reports twice annually so that the County Office of Education and State Department of Education are notified of a school district’s ability to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the fiscal year, and for two subsequent fiscal years. 

What will FCUSD’s first interim report say? FCUSD is submitting a “qualified” interim report, meaning the District does not believe it can meet its financial obligations in the 2021-22 school year, despite reductions that have already been approved. Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation for the Dec. 19 Board meeting.  Here is the full interim report

What new factors are being considered in the District’s budget forecast? Factors include:

  • ADA or Average Daily Attendance across the District is projected to decrease by 48 students for the current year, creating a loss of $370,800
  • The amount the state contributes to cover cost-of-living increases is projected at 1.79% for 2020-21 - far lower than the 3% school districts across California had anticipated.
  • The employer contribution for CalPERS was increased for both 2020-21 and 2021-22

Those and other factors mean the District’s newly projected deficit for the 2021-22 school year has grown to more than $4.4 million. 

The economy is strong. Why is there a budget deficit? School districts across the state are experiencing fiscal challenges due to rising employee and operating costs that are outpacing revenues. Some of the biggest areas in which state funding is not keeping up with escalating costs are in retirement contributions and special education costs.  

Have any cuts been made previously? Since the District began holding budget study sessions in 2018, the Board has approved a variety of reductions, including: 

  • Early retirement incentives for certificated employees effective in 2019-20. The Board will be considering a retirement incentive for classified employees on Dec. 19, 2019
  • Eliminating vacant teaching positions that did not have class rosters (including 10.3 elementary intervention teachers in Folsom)
  • Standardizing Kindergarten schedules across the District
  • Redirection of Folsom Lake High School students to existing Alternative Education options
  • Reduction of teacher prep periods at Mitchell and Mills middle schools, providing consistency across all middle schools in the District
  • Eliminating some administration and clerical positions by not backfilling vacancies, including at the District Office 
  • Reduction of Lead Teacher positions 
  • Reducing travel and conference expenses

Has the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme at Mitchell Middle School been eliminated? No. The school is moving to a different bell schedule to accommodate the reduction in teacher prep periods, but the IB program will continue. 

Are Rancho Cordova middle schools operating with fewer periods than Folsom middle schools? No. All middle schools throughout the District will now operate with a six-period day. The reduction of teacher prep periods at Mitchell and Mills middle schools provides for consistency across all middle schools in the District. 

Under the new kindergarten schedules, will kindergarten teachers lose their physical education prep time? No. Teachers who share AM/PM students will take their 60 minutes of P.E. prep together, with each group of students receiving 30 minutes of PE. Note: PE minutes are not mandated by state law in kindergarten. 

Are employee raises factored into budget projections? While employee compensation increases are not budgeted into these projections, we are working with our bargaining units to identify cost reductions that may help better position the District to support raises for employees. 

What else is the District considering reducing? No formal recommendations have been made. Based on feedback gathered from employee union leaders, staff, families, and students, a variety of ideas have been generated and can be found on Page 21 of the interim budget report summary. The District will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders before any formal recommendations are made. 

Are there any options the District can explore that don’t involve cuts? The District is hopeful that it might receive a one-time allocation of state funding to help offset rising special education costs. FCUSD also is exploring options related to its “Fund 71” account, which is the District’s designated account used for paying retiree benefits. 

Are there ways the District and our schools can generate revenue? The most effective way all stakeholders can help generate revenue for the District is to increase attendance by making sure all students arrive each day, one time, ready to learn. A 1% increase in Average Daily Attendance can generate an additional $1.6 million in revenue for the District.