Federal Stimulus Money Enables District To Avoid Further Cuts This Year

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schoolscat.pngAssociate Superintendent Bruce Colby delivered a mix of news on Thursday night, most of it bad, but there is enough good news to enable the district to avoid more cuts for 2009-10.

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.

The midyear budget for the current year ending on June 30, 2009 means that we lose 1.8 million from the state but that will be off-set somewhat from Federal Education Stabilization money.  They will transfer some money from categoricals.

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.

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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

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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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6 thoughts on “Federal Stimulus Money Enables District To Avoid Further Cuts This Year”

  1. Mike Hart

    The sad thing is that the legislature will ensure that any cuts will be focused on where they will cause pain first- schools, parks, the mentally ill etc. It is cynical and sad- but they leave the real waste carefully protected.

    Visit Sacramento sometime, dozens of buildings 15+ stories tall filled with state bureaucrats doing nothing really important. You could close most of the state buildings in Sacramento and the average citizen wouldn’t even be aware that they existed. Buildings filled with workers working on environmental evaluation actions dragging on for year after year with tedious review after report after study after meeting- none of it actually impacting anything that matters. Teams of people a dozen making $100K+ a year each or more working diligently to come up with plans that common sense could deal with in 20 minutes. No, they have to plow through volumes of regulations and self-congratulatory guidelines and best practices promulgated by our seriously troubled state.

    The state takes itself far too seriously. All of its regulators and enforcers filling those buildings do NOTHING to help our environment and everything to harm our economy.

    The state needs to revers its approach to budgeting. Things that directly affect the public should be preserved without budget reduction and those that further the regulatory ambitions of the clowns in Sacramento should be abolished.

  2. wdf

    Sampling of how some other districts are responding:

    Orange County schools:

    [url]http://headlines.ocregister.com/news/million-27382-district-cuts.html[/url]

    Woodland:

    [url]http://www.dailydemocrat.com/news/ci_12380229[/url]

    Fairfield/Suisun considering closing schools:

    [url]http://www.thereporter.com/news/ci_12427535[/url]

  3. Anon

    “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.”

    I cannot tell from this sentence who gets to decide where the money raised is spent! Please clarify – are you saying that DSF can raise the money, but it is the School Board that gets to decide where it is spent? If that is the case, that seems like a very, very bad idea to me. If DSF is raising the money, then they should be the ones to say how and where the money raised is spent. To do otherwise, in light of the raise given to Bruce Colby, makes no good sense.

  4. wdf

    From today’s (5/22) Enterprise:

    “To help bridge the gap, district administrators volunteered to take a 2 percent salary cut, which includes a three-day furlough.

    High-level contract employees such as Superintendent James Hammond are taking voluntary 5 percent cuts. Together, those reductions will save the district about $170,000.”

    Addressed in this schoolboard agenda item:

    [url]http://davis.csbaagendaonline.net/cgi-bin/WebObjects/davis-eAgenda.woa/wo/2.0.7.1.3.0.1.7.2.0.40.4.0.19.3.3.3.2.13.1.1.0.0.3.1[/url]

  5. Anon

    “High-level contract employees such as Superintendent James Hammond are taking voluntary 5 percent cuts. Together, those reductions will save the district about $170,000.”

    I have been one of the harshest critics of the raise for Bruce Colby, so good for the upper mgt of DJUSD for doing the right thing. Now if we could just get UCD to do the same, as well as all upper mgt in public and private sector. If they would, I have no doubt employees would be willing to take paycuts.

  6. Alan Anderson

    I would like to answer Anon’s question about decision-making for the money raised by the community and contributed to the DSF for our public schools. Final decision-making rests with the Davis Schools Foundation based on our mission which is to assure District-wide educational excellence and equitable opportunities among schools. We listen very carefully to our school communities, our families, our donors, and the District. Last year, our one-time gift was used to pay the salaries of 25.4 teachers. Measure W will take over these salaries beginning next year. Since salaries are the principle expense of core educational programs and services, the DSF and the District have been working on a plan that will allow DSF money to be used for salaries, while maintaining the District’s commitment to presenting the County with a balanced budget for 3 years that includes ongoing cuts from the State of $3.3 million and eliminates the historical structural deficit in District operations. The announcement of our campaign is possible because we have a plan. I hope Anon and others will join our Dollar-a-Day Campaign at whatever giving level they feel comfortable. Together, we can provide our students with the quality education they need and deserve. Thank you!

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