The bad news is that state revenues continue to fall and there is no apparent end in sight. The state’s budget propositions failed which from the perspective of schools meant additional cuts likely immediately. As we’ve discussed the state will have a July 1 cashflow crises. Instead of being able to restore programs with the Federal Money, all we will be able to do is avoid further cuts. And it will get worse.
There will be an additional $2 million cut from the budget for 2009-10. The district will utilized Federal Education Stabilization and some operational savings to get by at that point.
The hit that comes at this point looks to be in 2010-11 where the district is expecting yet another $2 million hit on the budget which may force an additional budget reduction of $1.6 million to $2 million.
One possible remedy is possible reductions to the school year by as much as seven days–which would be a HUGE hit on education itself. As Mr. Colby pointed out that would only save money if teachers and staff agree to take the salary cuts that go along with the reduction of school days.
The belief at this point is that they will not have to, unless there are even further cuts to the budget cut staffing for this year or act on these revised numbers this summer.
In the meantime, the Davis Schools Foundation announced on Thursday the launching of their dollar-a-day campaign where they will work with the community to raise money to shore up school funding for the district for this year and into the future.
They view their campaign as an ongoing commitment by the community towards schools and helping to continue to fund vital programs and restore some of the cuts that we suffered this spring.
They reached a deal with the school district that enables them to raise the money they can and the board of education would have the flexibility to put that money into the type of programs and commitments they would like to see.
This seems to put to rest a somewhat protracted situation where the district and DSF were odds on the strategy and even the characterization of the use of one-time monies to help with filling budget gaps and thus continuing ongoing programs. DSF argues that they have always been able to meet the obligations and their goals with fundraising and they should be considered as a potential source for ongoing money.
The question is given the current climate in the economy and with the hammer that is about to drop once again from Sacramento, how effectively they can raise money. Last year they were miraculously raise $1.7 million that provided us with the bridge to get us Measure W and prevent the type of wholesale staffing cuts that we would have faced.
While it is true that the economy has collapsed since then, it is noteworthy that even given the economic hits we have taken, we have avoided the type of catastrophic budget cuts that other districts have faced. A huge part of that is owed to three things. First, the work of the Davis Schools Foundation who provided the district with immediate money in the Spring of 2008. Second, the community stepping up not only to donate that $1.7 million in 2008 but then by a 3-1 margin voting to approve Measure W to provide on an on-going basis over the next three years roughly $2.4 million. And finally the work of budget director Bruce Colby who has been able to scrape together savings and some cuts to leave the district in sound fiscal shape to be able to with some help basically weather what we hope is the worst of the storm.
I want to say something else here. I am grateful to the local efforts to continue a high level of education, but in 2007 we were talk about the achievement gap. There is an achievement gap that is in existence in this state and district like Davis has enough resources and support in the community to survive these kinds of hits. But across the state we are looking for education to take a hit unlike what we have ever seen before. The Federal Stimulus money might allow some districts to stay afloat even in the face of that massive hit, but those students who are most vulnerable and least afford these kinds of education cuts are most like to get them.
And so while we can all be thankful for our local schools and local kids, we need to keep that in mind and figure out a better way in the future to deal with these kinds of problems.
—David M. Greenwald reporting