School board to discuss uncertain budget outlook

By From page A1 | August 07, 2012

An updated budget forecast, including a “worse-case-scenario” deficit of more than $8 million for 2013-14, will be presented to the Davis school board on Wednesday as well as enrollment projections as the district gears up for the new school year, which starts Aug. 22.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the East Conference Room at the school district’s administrative offices, 526 B St. The meeting day and location are different this week. The board usually meets on Thursday in Community Chambers at Davis City Hall.

The budget issue crops up on almost every school board meeting agenda lately, since the shape of the school district’s spending plan depends to a large degree on decisions to be made by voters in the Nov. 6 election. The four possibilities to be presented on Wednesday evening include:

* A “worse-case” scenario — If California voters reject Proposition 30, Gov. Brown’s sales and income tax ballot measure, the Davis school district would receive a new round of mid-year “trigger cuts” from the state. And the district would face more budget woes if its proposed parcel tax (recently given the name Measure E by the Yolo County Election Department) fails to achieve the two-thirds majority required for passage. This double-whammy would leave the David district with a budget deficit of more than $8 million for 2013-14, leading to deep cuts to school district programs, and an urgent request for employee concessions.

* A “best-case” scenario, in which California voters approve Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30, and local voters approve the Davis school district’s parcel tax (Measure E). This would avert an immediate fiscal crisis, but might still leave the school district facing a $1 million to $2 million budget deficit, depending on whether or not the state funds cost-of-living adjustments.

* A “local-only” scenario, in which California voters reject Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30, but local voters approve the Davis school district’s parcel tax (Measure E). This option would deplete the district’s cash reserves and lead to some program reductions due to the mid-year trigger cuts from the state, but the Davis district’s fiscal picture would improve in 2013-14 as Measure E revenue would begin to reach the school district’s budget.

* A “state-only” scenario, in which California voters approve Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30, but local voters reject the Davis school district’s parcel tax (Measure E). This would result in a loss of $3.2 million in district revenue in 2013-14 since an existing school parcel tax known as Measure A would expire, with no new school parcel tax taking its place. Program reductions and a request for employee concessions would be likely.

In addition to budget presentation, the school board will receive enrollment estimates for the academic year ahead. These estimates give the district a general picture of anticipated student numbers, but early August enrollment projections always leave a little bit of wiggle room for the inevitable adjustments on the first day of school.

Each summer, some families move out of town, while others move in. Some newly arrived parents contact the school district office and register their children during the summer, but there are always a few who simply show up on the first day of school. And sometimes there are parents who assume that the school year will begin in September, on the day after Labor Day, which has not been the case in Davis for many years. Other families move out of town, but don’t inform the school district that their children won’t be returning to class.

Elsewhere on the agenda, the school board will consider a plan to replace school library systems, many of which are using obsolete equipment. This summer, the system at the Davis High School library failed. School district staff is recommending a new package from Insignia Software Corp. that would cost $50,000 in the first year, and an additional $7,700 over each of the next four years, for a total cost of around $80,000.

The school board also will be asked to approve a number of late-summer hires at various campuses to replace teachers who have resigned, retired or gone on leave of absence. Additionally, the school board will also be asked to approve annual resolutions approving the levying of locally authorized taxes under Community Facilities Districts One and Two, Measure A and Measure C.

Since the East Conference Room at the Davis school district’s administrative offices is not wired for live broadcast, Wednesday’s meeting will be recorded for later broadcast on Davis cable television Channel 17 and posted as streaming video on the district’s website, www.djusd.tv.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055. 

Jeff Hudson

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