An introduction to the SRVUSD budget

March 21, 2019

This school year, SRVUSD received a total of $356 million in revenues and allocated $346 million in expenditures. District officials reserved the remaining difference of just under $10 million to be added to the net district balance, which, at the start of the 2019-20 school year, would stand at $64 million.

Revenues were largely gained from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which, according to the SRVUSD, provided $268 million through a uniform base grant per unit of attendance adjusted by grade level, and a supplemental grant based on the unduplicated percentage of targeted disadvantaged students. State revenues and a governor’s grant contributed an additional $51 million, local and parcel tax revenues added $31 million, and other federal revenues gave $6 million.

Due to its low percentage of targeted students (socioeconomically disadvantaged, English learners, homeless/foster youth, students with disabilities or migrant students), SRVUSD is ranked by statewide figures as the fourth-lowest funded district in California by LCFF.

SRVUSD spokeswoman Ms. Elizabeth Graswich explained, “For every student enrolled, SRVUSD receives over $8,000. There are several neighboring districts throughout the Bay Area that receive in excess of $10,000 per student under LCFF; some even receive $20,000-plus per student.”

While relative shortage of LCFF revenues has guided the District’s spending patterns, the State of California’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 3.7 percent of the LCFF is also less than the San Ramon Valley area’s corresponding COLA. Graswich explained that SRVUSD’s “expenses for health benefits, step-and-column salary increases and pension contributions” have approached 4 percent this year, further exacerbating the District’s revenue shortfall.

SRVUSD has allocated all but $10 million of the $356 million in revenues into the following expenditure clusters: $294 million to certificated and classified salaries, including benefits; $31 million to services and operating expenditures; $13 million to books, technology and supplies and $3 million to other expenses and infrastructural investment.

Similarly, SRVUSD’s reserves are also separated into several categories. In June 2018 — before the August 2018 45-Day Revise — reserves for the following school year were set at $67 million.

Within these $67 million, $23 million were allocated for one-time spending in instructional materials, technology, professional development, declining enrollment management, mental health and capital outlay; $7 million were allocated for purposes restricted by the state; $2 million were allocated for lottery student management and $2 million were allocated for other costs. The remaining $33 million in the reserves are saved in a roughly two-to-one ratio for undesignated purposes and for economic uncertainties.

A particular statistic — the unrestricted reserve percentage — had been of central importance throughout negotiations. It’s defined as the amount in reserves not restricted by state and federal government for a specified purpose, divided by the district revenue in a particular school year — and it quantifies SRVUSD’s economic vantage point between spending and saving.

Under different interpretations, this figure may sort out to different exact values. When taking into account amounts set aside for one-time spending, lottery assignments, economic uncertainties and undesignated purposes, the figure comes out to 16.01 percent, according to the 45-Day Revise. SRVEA co-lead negotiator and DVHS math teacher Mr. Robert Gendron said that due to different counts of unrestricted reserves, SRVEA’s budget calculations have yielded an 18 percent figure.

When not including the reserves’ allocations to one-time spending and lottery assignments, the unrestricted reserve percentage as of August 2018 comes out to 8.73. For consistency, this statistic will be referred to as the “alternative” unrestricted reserve percentage.

To compare these figures to established standards, California’s Education Code and Senate Bill 799 on school finance mandate that the alternative unrestricted reserve percentage lies between 2 and 15 percent.

Regarding the unrestricted reserve percentage of 16.01, according to Graswich, “[a]s of November 2018, the average total net ending balance for all unified California school districts was 16.64 percent.” However, Gendron said that SRVEA and SRVUSD have “tentatively agreed” in the past to keep it near 8 percent.

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