Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the DJUSD Budget Situation

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The school district in order to answer questions from district personnel about the budget and budget process has put together a Frequency Asked Question (FAQ) sheet. They put one together prior to Wednesday’s meeting and now will put one together based on the questions received at Wednesday’s meeting.

Here’s the original FAQ that was emailed to all district personnel.
1. What is required of the district in terms of a budget process?

The district is required to submit a multi-year budget that shows fiscal projections over a three year period. The Second Interim Budget due by March 15th must include projections in the current 2008-09 year and the next two years 2009-10 and 2010-11. By June 30th the district must submit an “Adopted Budget” for 2009-10 that includes a multi-year projection for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. These budgets must show fiscal solvency over these time periods.

2. What does a “qualified” budget mean?

A “qualified” budget means that the district cannot provide a fiscally solvent budget plan in the second or third year of the budget. The district is required to develop a fiscal plan of action to address the budget shortfalls. Depending upon the size of the shortfall and the district’s ability to address the issue, the County Office of Education can require outside interventions to move the district toward fiscal solvency. This means persons outside the district can become involved or even direct budget decisions and timelines.

3. What would a “negative qualification” mean to the district?

A “negative” budget means that the district cannot show a fiscally solvent budget plan in the current year of the budget or is at risk of running out of cash due to the budget shortfalls. This “negative” status occurs at any time including the current year if/when reserves no longer meet contractual commitments. The district is required to develop a fiscal plan of action to address the budget shortfalls. The County Office of Education would require outside interventions immediately to move the district toward fiscal solvency.

4. Why are cuts to school districts budgets so difficult compared to private sector?

1. Districts’ have little or no control over funding levels. For example, right now we are being required to meet statutory deadlines even thought the legislature has not me theirs.

2. A portion of the district’s dollars (15%) are “categorically” attached to specific programs and services. Right now, it is unclear what state categorical dollars are “flexible” and can be used to address the budget deficit.

3. Employee compensation accounts for over 85% of the operating budget and the majority of the employees work under employee collective bargaining associations. Compensation accounts for 90% of the unrestricted budget.

4. Over 10% of our funds are programs protected by parcel tax measures. This means these programs or services will not be eliminated.

5. Approximately how many jobs would be saved with a rollback?

A 2.5% rollback would save approximately 20 jobs. A 4% rollback (i.e. back 18 months) would prevent layoff notices from being administered this year.

6. How does our situation compare with the state and the nation?

Our situation is in line with a deep economic downturn affecting the country. The California unemployment rate is at an all time high and could climb above 10% in the coming months. There have been thousands of corporate layoffs over the last few weeks. Some major corporations are trimming up to 10% of their employees. The State of California is currently putting workers on furlough with potential layoff for state employees that could reach 10,000 workers.

7. How would a more favorable than expected state budget affect our decisions?

If the approved State budget gives the district flexibility, fewer reductions would be needed and any layoff notices administered could begin to be rescinded.

8. How would a rollback affect retirement?

This question would have to answered on a case by case basis. A STRS employee with fewer than 25 years of service, absent any negotiated agreement to mitigate the reduction, would be adversely affected.

9. What impact would categorical “flexibility” have on the budget shortfall?

A large portion of State education funding is allocated to districts for specific programs (Categoricals). DJUSD receives state funding of $7m for these programs. Categorical flexibility means that instead of using the money in specific categories (e.g. CSR, textbooks) we would be able to use the money as part of the general fund. This would allow our district to make local decisions how to use these funds to cover our state revenue reductions. Even if we were allowed the most flexibility that anyone has suggested it would only cover $2 million of the total $5 million deficit over the next three years.

11. Are we using the reserve?

At this point we are using all the reserves we are allowed to use.

12. What relationship does the stadium have to the general fund or the budget shortfall?

It has no relationship. This is an example of how complex school funding came be. In the middle of devastating general fund losses, we have redevelopment funds that cannot be used to help us with our educational funding. There are monetary advantages and safety consideration that make moving forward with a project at this time a reasonable thing to do. Even so, the direction of the Board was simply to move forward with planning. No money has been expended, borrowed, or promised beyond the redevelopment funds that could only have been used on such a project. In the event a facility load is used to finance the project, the funding stream to pay the debt would come from secured property taxes earmarked for facilities only.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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19 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the DJUSD Budget Situation”

  1. Anonymous

    Before you all get too weepy about the DJUSD budget: You could work for the world's largest parcel delivery service and finally(after 7 to 10 YEARS of part-time work)become a driver but due to the failing economy you lose the driver job and you're hourly wage goes from $29 to $17 PLUS the hours you work shift by 4 or more hours as well. Anyone else suffer that kind of wage decline in government?? Of course not.

  2. Gimme A Brake pun in

    Good information – but it doesn't really say anything more than that the School District/Baord would prefer this budget crisis be resolved by teachers taking a 4% pay cut to avoid layoffs. By the way – notice how the cut has been increased from 2.5% to 4%. If teachers, who are paid a meager salary at best, are expected to take such a cut, then I think they ought to have a say in identifying potential cuts to what they perceive as pork. Seems only fair…Point blank, I don't trust the School District/Board's assessment of what constitutes …pork…, and how to implement cuts. Remember, it was the School Board that decided to close Valley Oak due to …declining enrollment… which did not exist, and put forth the idea of closing Emerson. And they voted to give Bruce Colby a 5% raise, just before they advocate teachers taking a 4% cut. Disgraceful!

  3. David M. Greenwald

    The official proposal is a 2.5% cut. The question was asked how much would be needed to insure zero layoffs, the answer to that is 4%.Also if the teachers get a 4% cut, Bruce Colby gets an 8% cut.Yes, I realize that is weird. I pointed this out two months ago. Seems my initial feeling was correct. Nevertheless, we are where we are.

  4. Stop the punnishment

    …Point blank, I don't trust the School District/Board's assessment of what constitutes …pork…, and how to implement cuts….Do you have an assessment of what is pork that enough interested parties would agree to?Is there a California school district that is a good model for Davis to follow?

  5. David M. Greenwald

    I don't think you are going to find a much better model than Davis. It is on the low end of spending in a state that is on the low end of spending, it has high scores, and most of the money spent goes directly into the classroom.

  6. Anonymous

    Teacher salaries constitute a huge fraction (over 80% I believe) of the district budget. It's hard to make significant cuts without going there when they have already cut an awful lot of other services and costs to the bone (counselors, materials, etc.). I'm not sure what Brake thinks is a good place to cut – maybe the Division of Waste? It's easy to point your fingers at a few things, but getting rid of Mandarin IV, and even reducing administrator salaries, alone are not going to solve this problem.

  7. Gimme a Brake pun in

    …Do you have an assessment of what is pork that enough interested parties would agree to?…In a previous one of David's posts (yesterday I think), teacher's wrote in to explain where they would make cuts. They would also choose the self-qualification route before any cuts are made to teacher salaries….Is there a California school district that is a good model for Davis to follow?…You have heard from teachers, who are saying classes like Spanish 5, w only a small number of students, is not an essential, especially if the same classes can be had over at the local community college. Smells like …pork… to me!…Also if the teachers get a 4% cut, Bruce Colby gets an 8% cut….Big deal!!! This is mostly a symbolic gesture on his part, to make himself look good at teachers' expense. The fact of the matter is that if teachers were willing to take a 4% cut, Bruce Colby's job would be done – voila, a balanced budget. How convenient for him!

  8. David M. Greenwald

    …You have heard from teachers, who are saying classes like Spanish 5, w only a small number of students, is not an essential, especially if the same classes can be had over at the local community college. Smells like …pork… to me!…That's a question that can be asked. My guess is, and this was something discussed at the workshop, you could condense classes, but you would reduce the number and variety of courses offered. That is an option. The question is how much money are you saving by eliminating a Spanish 5 class, which is probably a .2 FTE? And how many can you do….Big deal!!! This is mostly a symbolic gesture on his part, to make himself look good at teachers' expense. The fact of the matter is that if teachers were willing to take a 4% cut, Bruce Colby's job would be done – voila, a balanced budget. How convenient for him!…You are correct it is a symbolic option for any individual to take a paycut. As Bruce Colby put it yesterday, you could eliminate his position, and you'd still have roughly the same deficit you had before. Across the entire unclassified bargaining unit, a 5% cut would mean exactly $100,000 in savings. An 8% cut is closer to $150,000. In either case, it's only one piece of a much larger cutting process.Also the 4% cut doesn't end the story. It just figures out how to make ends meet for 2009-10 with the other cuts they've already come up with.

  9. Don Shor

    …You have heard from teachers, who are saying classes like Spanish 5, w only a small number of students, is not an essential, especially if the same classes can be had over at the local community college….The only purpose for cutting specific course offerings and reducing the number of classes is to reduce the number of teachers. In effect, you are saying that you prefer layoffs to salary cuts. Self-qualifying doesn't solve the long-term fiscal problem.

  10. Punster Stop the pun

    …You have heard from teachers, who are saying classes like Spanish 5, w only a small number of students, is not an essential, especially if the same classes can be had over at the local community college. Smells like …pork… to me!…Are you trying to subvert the will of the voters? question their judgement? ;-)Measure W included a component of funding for secondary languages, with the intent of funding lower enrolled language classes (which is usually higher level language).Since you're making the argument, which Spanish class offered at Sac City's Davis Center is equivalent to Spanish 5?And do you think that course will be offered in Davis for the Fall of '09, given that all education levels (k-12, CSU, UC, Community colleges) in the state are being asked to cut back?

  11. wdf

    From Vanguard blog comments on 2/10/09:DJUSD Teacher said:The Board has expanded class offerings at the high school. DHS has over 240+ courses; the state average for most high schools is around 100 courses.From Steve Kelleher, letter to the editor, Davis Enterprise, 2/11/09:Davis High has nearly 250 courses offerings; the state average is 100.I get the feeling we're seeing a recitation of DTA talking points.Nevertheless, I find the comment about 250 courses to be misleading and possibly meaningless.DHS and Da Vinci have about 2000 students, total. If all 250 courses are being run at the high school level, then that means that all the classes have an average of 8 students. If that's true, then we definitely have a major scandal on our hands, and maybe the Davis Vanguard just got the scoop right here.The likelier explanation is that there are courses on the books that are no longer being offered either because of lack of student interest or no qualified teacher available. So how many different courses are actually run at our high schools?Well, information from the ed-data website places the average HS class size at about 28 (county average was ~25) last year.2000 divided by 28 is 71.4. So at a possible maximum, the district is offering about 71 different courses. But we know that can't be true because there are multiple sections of certain courses (English, math, social studies). So the true number of different HS courses offered in the district has to be less than 71.Maybe the real point that the teachers are trying to make is that the school board and district should remove some courses from the books. That would be a good thing to do, but it is basically irrelevant to the main discussion about the district being fiscally responsible.Since we're discussing FAQ's in today's blog article, maybe this is one additional likely urban legend to clarify.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    Hold on wdf….DHS and Da Vinci have about 2000 students, total. If all 250 courses are being run at the high school level, then that means that all the classes have an average of 8 students….Each student goes to 6 or 7 classes. That should change the math a bit.

  13. Lexicon Artist

    …Teacher salaries constitute a huge fraction (over 80% I believe) of the district budget….David posted this graphic a week ago or so which breaks down where the salaries go.Certificated employees (i.e., teachers, reading and math specialists), not counting speech therapists, nurses, librarians, psychologists, counselors or athletic directors, cost 61% of the district's budget for salaries and benefits, not 80%. And salaries and benefits are only a percentage of the total budget, not anywhere close to the whole budget.

  14. Don Shor

    …DHS has over 240+ courses; the state average for most high schools is around 100 courses….I don't know where to find the state average. It might be on Ed-Data, but I couldn't find it there. Current course listings in the Davis High School course catalog:Ag 8Art 9Business 4Computer Sci 2Dance 2Drivers Ed 1English/Drama 30Foreign Lang 28*Health 2Home Ec 5Inustrial Ed 4Math 14Music 12PE 6Science 19Social Science 18Special Ed 8Special Programs 4School Service 6Work Experience 2Advanced Placement 17ROP 12Total 213I think some (all?) of the AP classes are duplicates of existing courses, and that ROP is concurrent with schooling. So that makes a total of about 184 courses offered.

  15. David M. Greenwald

    …Teacher salaries constitute a huge fraction (over 80% I believe) of the district budget. It’s hard to make significant cuts without going there when they have already cut an awful lot of other services and costs to the bone (counselors, materials, etc.)….Your specifics are off, but the point is largely correct.The certificated bargaining unit total compensation accounts for 2/3rds of the general fund budget.

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