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TUSD considering budget with $2.8 million boost in funding
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The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees received a tentative budget for the 2017-2018 school year at their June 6 meeting, which detailed a spending plan of just over $152 million and an increase of $2.8 million in base grant funding through the Local Control Funding Formula.

The tentative budget’s General Fund totals $152,004,602 – a decrease of nearly $6 million from last year’s fund – with a $31 million ending balance. The General Fund provides money for expenditures such as teacher and maintenance staff salaries, employee benefits, textbooks and site improvements. According to TUSD Chief Financial Officer Ronna Fraser, the District will be able to meet its financial obligation in not only 2017-2018, but the two subsequent years, as well as maintain an adequate reserve to weather financial shifts, totaling $15.3 million.

Fraser added that elements included in Governor Jerry Brown’s May Revise of the state budget will also benefit the school district.

Thanks to an increase in Proposition 98 funding, jumping from $71.4 billion statewide in 2016-2017 to $74.6 billion this year, TUSD’s projected revenue toward LCFF funding will receive a boost of nearly $3 million, benefitting the District’s employees.

“Fortunately, that increase will be just enough to cover annual step and column salary increases, based on years of service, and rising pension costs in 2017-2018,” said Fraser.

A major component of the LCFF is the Local Control and Accountability Plan, which represents the District’s spending priorities to ensure that all students are college and career ready. The 2017-2018 LCAP features aspects like restructuring the District’s Career Technical Education and Adult School, providing staff for Pitman High School’s Career Center, hiring an additional K-6 elementary music teacher and creating a District-wide writing program, among others. A total of $30,025,259 is included in the General Fund in order to meet the goals of the LCAP. $402,000 of those funds will be spent on technology improvements, increasing the District’s student to device ratio 3 to 1.

“TUSD will continue to utilize the LCAP process to measure the effectiveness of expenditures and use our funding wisely as we educate our students to be college and career ready within a safe and caring environment,” said Fraser. “As a District, we are invested in the LCAP process.  Our stakeholders’ suggestions and concerns, along with assessments of student achievements and measurable outcomes determine District decisions related to programs and staffing.”

Fraser added that if the state’s Adopted Budget mirrors the May Revise, TUSD’s youngest students will benefit due to an increase to preschool funding. In the District’s tentative budget, the Child Development Fund totals just over $2.7 million.

Other designations in the budget include assignments of $3 million for Land Acquisition and Development, $1,286,807 for Affordable Health Care and $6 million for Textbook Adoptions and Instructional Materials.

While the District is set to meet its financial duties this year, Fraser said some challenges that have come with the budget include maintaining adequate reserves, federal funding decreases and rising pension costs.

“Post-employment costs remain one of the biggest challenges we face financially,” said Fraser. “These costs are increasing at a much faster rate than revenue sources. The long-term effect of staffing decisions today must be considered.”

The final budget will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval on June 20.