Posted on Jun 01, 2012
SDEA Members and CTA Budget Experts Participate in SDUSD “Budget Scrub”
We all know that this District has a terrible record of screwing up their budget, so we can’t take their claims at face value. However, this year’s budget crisis looks to be worse than we have experienced before: the May revise did not give us hope, tax revenues were lower than projected in the original budget proposal in January, the state’s already large deficit has expanded, there are no federal stimulus dollars coming from Congress this year, and there are realconcerns that the fiscal situation in the District and state will not get better anytime soon. The impact on our schools, colleagues, and students could be very serious.
These are some of the reasons the elected SDEA Board of Directors decided to scrub the District’s budget and authorized a serious analysis of the numbers by a team of SDEA members and union budget experts. 1534 layoffs prove that the District’s priorities are skewed. We need to examine their budget,see what is real, and push them to re-prioritize. The team consisted of the following
Lindsay Burningham, Teacher at EB Scripps El and SDEA Vice President-elect
Juliet Dela Paz, School Nurse at Field El
Rafal Dobrowolski, SDEA Researcher
Gary Edmonds, Teacher at Garfield HS
Dave Erving, Teacher at Hoover HS
Bill Freeman, SDEA President
Adam Goldstein, Teacher at Hage El
Manuel Gomez, Teacher at Chollas Mead El, SDEA Board member, SDEA Treasurer-elect
Robert Hampton, Teacher at Balboa El
Tim Hill, CTA Negotiations and Organizational Development Department
Deborah Holtgen, Teacher at Linda Vista El, SDEA Board member
Steve Kaplan, Retired SDEA Executive Director
Tom Madden, Interim SDEA Executive Director
Alva Rivera, CTA Negotiations and Organizational Development Department
Dennise Rousey, Teacher at Porter El
Dennis Schamp, Teacher at Lewis MS, SDEA Board member
Mary Turnberg, Counselor at Serra HS
Yesterday, May 30th, the team above met with SDUSD senior administrators, Superintendent Bill Kowba, and Board Members Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans, to challenge the District on their proposed budget numbers, assumptions, and projections. The SDEA Budget team did not shy away from asking tough questions and demanding accurate information regarding how the budget is being structured for next year. Several assumptions that the District is utilizing to project both their income and expenses for the upcoming school year were examined, and determined to not be completely accurate.
The SDEA team demanded accurate information, especially regarding the costs used to determine how many SDEA members the District determined needed to be laid-off, and on how the actual budget deficit was structured. The team also expressed their frustration over the lack of trust in the information coming from the District’s financial team in years past. Additionally, the team called for a demonstration of serious intent to get down to the real budget problem by recalling all over-noticed SDEA members, and filling current known vacancies from retirements and separations immediately with laid off SDEA members, as the SDUSD Board voted to do at the May 22nd meeting.
The negative impact of the state budget crisis on SDUSD’s finances is real. Severe underfunding of schools, stemming from the fiscal crisis that began back in 2008, has continually diminished the amount the state collects as tax revenue, which then impacts how much money is sent to school districts. SDUSD has been able to weather the storm with the aid of federal stimulus monies in years past, along with better than expected tax revenues that were reflected in the May revise of previous years.
Additionally, SDUSD has been sweeping clean various accounts where money was hidden in prior years, and has resorted to selling property in a down market to meet its financial obligations. The amount spent on consultants, outside services, and contracting out has been in steady decline. With the threat of potential trigger cuts amounting to over $440 per student this upcoming January if the Governor’s tax initiative does not pass, the outlook presents real challenges.
Yet there are still inaccuracies in the assumptions and projections the District has made going into the next year and beyond. These include the actual cost savings made through layoffs, underestimating enrollment, and overestimating the increase in costs associated with health benefits and salaries. These inaccuracies were pointed out in this meeting, and SDEA requested and was
promised more accurate information from the District.
SDEA is expecting answers to its request in the coming days, so that CTA and SDEAstaff can analyze the information to better inform what the real problem looks like and how we might collectively respond to it.