With little comment, the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously passed a 2018-19 budget Thursday night that projects continued enrollment growth at the lower grades but increasingly expensive state-mandated contributions to employee retirement funds.
The district expects to spend $14,782,733 in the next school year – about $1.5 million less than the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The difference, explained Chief Business Officer Linda Covello, is one-time investments made this year in salary payouts to staff, technology upgrades, textbooks, and teacher training and other professional development.
The 2018-19 budget projects district enrollment at 1,225, broken down this way:
- Denair Elementary Charter Academy: 545
- Denair Middle School and Denair High School: 463
- Denair Charter Academy: 217
Enrollment is critical for school districts because state funding – their largest revenue source – is based upon how many youngsters there are on each campus.
Denair projects an increase of 24 students at DECA, which features the popular dual language English/Spanish program that will be expanded through third grade next year. An additional five students also are expected at the high school. But there still is concern at the middle school, where 13 fewer students are estimated next school year compared to this year.
DECA’s continued growth will require the district to add two portable classrooms each of the next three years, Covello said. The cost this year is about $370,000.
The fastest-rising costs are associated with employee pensions. Next year’s budget includes $181,000 more than this year in contributions to CalSTRS (teachers, administrators) and CalPERS (non-teachers). Pension costs represent nearly 16% of Denair’s general fund budget – the account that pays for salaries, academic programs, books and supplies, and computers and other equipment.
Covello estimated that by 2022-23, as much as 30% of the general fund budget to be eaten up by pension costs – a fact that frustrated Board President Ray Prock Jr.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about that,” Prock said. “It would be a lot better if we could put that in (employees’) paychecks.”
In other action Thursday, trustees:
- Welcomed incoming Superintendent Terry Metzger, who attended the meeting and sat in the audience. She officially begins Monday. Metzger has been the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Rincon Valley Union School District in Santa Rosa since 2012.
- Approved 2018-19 the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).It is a narrative version of the budget and lays out how much will be spent to achieve the various goals, Covello explained. It was created after a series of three meetings with stakeholders, including community members and staff.
- Agreed to apply for a $20,000 Agricultural Career Technical Education Incentive Grant based on the number of teachers with agriculture sections, the number of students enrolled in the agriculture programs and the quality criteria related to the agriculture programs. The purpose of the grant is to create and develop programs that motivate students to accept challenges, take pride in their achievements and work to their highest potential. Students will learn about colleges and careers through real-life experiences.
Approved a field trip July 26-28 to San Luis Obispo for the seven incoming FFA officers at Denair High. The purpose is to help the students form a strong bond for the activities that are held throughout the year.