While the Denair Unified School District’s budget was recently negatively certified, which means that the District is unable to meet its financial obligations for the current and subsequent fiscal year, the outlook is optimistic as changes are being made to lay a new foundation of economic responsibility within the District.
“In the eyes of the county office you are on your way down the recovery path, doing all the things that you’re supposed to do,” said fiscal advisor Terri Ryland.
It was only months ago that the District was facing the threat of a state takeover with the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team ready to intervene and the Stanislaus County Office of Education holding a firm June 30, deadline after which they would refuse to administer funds. However, with a new superintendent, concessions on behalf of the Denair Unified Teachers’ Associations and a three year financial recovery plan “now the County has told FCMAT to stand down,” said Ryland at a school board meeting on Thursday.
However, DUSD is still reliant on the SCOE as it has a negative general fund balance and lacks the means to support itself according to interim Chief Business Officer Douglas Crancer’s second interim budget report. The report indicates a reduction of eight employees for the 2014-2015 school year, which was approved at a prior meeting, as well as a further reduction of three more teachers in the 2015-2016 school year.
“This is based on a projected declining enrollment of 7 percent based on the 2013-2014 school year enrollment,” explained Crancer.
While student enrollment is anticipated to decrease, the District is projecting that it will be able to meet the minimum State reserve by the end of the 2015-2016 school year due to assistance from the state’s improved financial condition, employee concessions and the help of the Charter fund which includes Denair Academic Avenues and Denair Charter Academy.
On Tuesday evening the District also held a special board meeting where the Board unanimously approved to terminate 12 hourly one-year contract positions at Denair Charter Academy, which caters to primarily at-risk youth. According to Superintendent Aaron Rosander it is common practice to formally lay off these teachers even if they are eventually rehired for the next school year.
“They need the flexibility of staff because of the flux in average daily attendance,” said Barry Cole, president of the Denair Unified Teachers’ Association.
The District will also be welcoming a new director of fiscal services from the Monterey Peninsula who will begin on April 1st and will be formally trained by Crancer upon her arrival. As of July 1st, her initial salary of $72,000 will be increased and her titled will change to reflect her official position of Chief Business Officer.