The Denair Unified School District is slowly but surely digging itself out of the fiscal red zone as local changes at the district level as well as state budget decisions have contributed to an expected financial recovery by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
For the first time in two years the Denair Unified School District will not be in need of a loan from the Stanislaus County Office of Education to meet fiscal requirements as the District passed an $8.15 million budget for the 2014-2015 year Thursday evening. Overall, revenues are up and expenses are down as DUSD finalized decisions made earlier this year to trim the budget through the elimination of the equivalent of 19 full time teaching positions and one administrative job to account for declining enrollment. The new spending plan reflects those cuts as well as the 8 percent salary reduction for teachers agreed upon earlier this year between the District and the Denair Unified Teachers Association after a contentious negations process.
“We are definitely on a path to recovery,” said Chief Business Officer Linda Covello. “In the past there was a lot of deficit spending, or spending more money than we were seeing in revenues, but now by starting with these staffing cuts and other expenditure reductions, we’re spending a lot less starting this 2014-2015 school year.”
While the District is still technically anticipating a $130,000 deficit next school year, DUSD is slated to be fiscally solvent by the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Gov. Jerry Brown’s recently released state budget contributed to the District’s promising future as he is funding school districts 1.5 percent more than initially proposed in the May Revise Budget through the Local Control Funding Formula. This translates to school districts receiving 1.5 percent more per pupil for Average Daily Attendance funds, thus increasing revenues.
Other changes include a reduction districts must pay to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System which requires employers, or school districts, to contribute a percentage for employee retirement benefits. The Governor’s May Revise Budget originally anticipated school districts to contribute 9.5 percent but the Enacted Budget requires only an 8.8 percent contribution – a cost saving gesture for DUSD according to Covello.
“It’s a positive thing that’s happening here. Yes, we are currently showing an ending fund balance but we are bringing that down by $472,000 dollars this year. That is a big difference,” said Covello.
With the plan of reducing another $500,000 in the 2015-2016 school year, DUSD is expected to be meeting its required minimum reserved and thus fiscally solvent by 2016.