DUSD Enrollment Decline Slowing, but Still Affects Budget Outlook


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Santa made a brief appearance at Thursday night’s meeting of the Denair Unified School District school board. If there was one thing school officials could wish for this Christmas, it is more students.

Trustees heard an interim budget report from Chief Business Officer Linda Covello, who shared that the district remains on track to meet its fiscal targets this school year, largely due to a one-time $500,000 infusion of state funding to its $13 million budget. But lurking on the not-too-distant horizon is a sobering reality: Unless the district can begin to grow enrollment again, there may be some difficult financial decisions to make.

Total district enrollment this school year, Covello said, is 1,316, a 2% decline from the previous year. The loss of students has dramatically slowed from a few years ago, when the rate was as high as 11%. The trend is critical because enrollment is at the heart of how the state calculates Average Daily Attendance, or ADA. Each student is worth roughly $8,000 per year in state funding.

“Our decline is getting better, but we’re still going down,” Covello said. “The middle school is pretty much stable. We have declining enrollment at the high school and growing enrollment at the elementary school.”

Part of Covello’s responsibility is to project three years out. Right now, her forecast is for the district to creep back into deficit spending in 2016-17 and 2017-18 because of fewer students and higher mandated contributions to state retirement funds. Even under those scenarios, Denair still would meet the state requirement to have at least 3% of its budget in a reserve fund. Continue reading “DUSD Enrollment Decline Slowing, but Still Affects Budget Outlook” »

DUSD Board Cheers Positive Financial Report


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District has made a remarkable financial turnaround, trustees were told Thursday night, and will finish the 2014-14 school year with a small surplus.

The recovery is about 18 months ahead of the aggressive expectations set last spring by new Superintendent Aaron Rosander and his revamped financial team in conjunction with state and county advisers. He said the district has kept a “laser-like” focus on its fiscal challenges and been “parsimonious” with its spending.

“The entire district has come together to ensure our success,” said Rosander, who took over in February. “Management and union members have worked impressively together over the past eight months. This relationship is strong and our combined will to succeed is even stronger.”

The district has an $8.7 million budget in 2014-15 and estimates it will end the school year with a 3% reserve, or about $262,000. That meets the minimum requirements set by the state and should earn Denair a “positive” certification for the first time since January 2012 from the Stanislaus County Office of Education, which reviews all school district budgets in the county.

In addition to across-the-board pay cuts, 19 full-time teaching jobs and one administrative position were eliminated earlier this year, and there were reductions to some non-essential academic programs. This fall, the district also was buoyed by a $250,000 windfall from the state thanks to recalculations related to its Average Daily Attendance, which school funding is based on. Other revenue adjustments netted the district about $90,000.

Rosander said parents and other community members “can rest assured and put confidence in the district that their schools are being managed with a high degree of accuracy when it comes to the financial component. Continue reading “DUSD Board Cheers Positive Financial Report” »

DUSD and Stanislaus County Partner on Monte Vista Sidewalk

Stanislaus County Seal

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District and the Stanislaus County will collaborate on a project that will improve safety around the high school stadium as well as beautify the western entrance to town.

The plan is to replace a weedy area on the north side of Monte Vista Avenue with 640 feet a sidewalk and landscaping. The county will pay for the 5-foot sidewalk, which will connect with an existing walkway that now ends at the intersection of Lester Road and Monte Vista. The school district will be responsible for the installation and maintenance of 12 feet of landscaping between the new sidewalk and a chain-link fence.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander announced the good news at Thursday night’s school board meeting. Grading will begin in a few weeks and the project should be completed later this fall, he said.

Rosander credited county Supervisor Vito Chiesa and Public Works Director Matt Machado for their support and willingness to partner on the project. Members of the Denair Municipal Advisory Council also endorsed the new sidewalk.

The new walkway will provide a safer route to and from Jack Lytton Stadium, which hosts football games and other community events. The entrance on the west side of the stadium currently requires people who park toward the east to navigate the dirt and weeds on the north side of Monte Vista.

The upgrade also will improve people’s first impression of the community. Monte Vista curves and turns into Main Street at the intersection with Lester. A small triangle of grass includes a “Welcome to Denair” sign. Continue reading “DUSD and Stanislaus County Partner on Monte Vista Sidewalk” »

Budget Picture Brighter at Denair Unified


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Though the challenge of growing enrollment remains, the financial condition of the Denair Unified School District continues to improve.

District trustees and the public were briefed at Thursday night’s board meeting about Denair’s budget status, which required a loan of $1.3 million two years ago to avoid state intervention. Those dark days are well behind the district thanks to a series of necessary austerity measures, including an 8% pay reduction for teachers.

The district finished the 2013-14 fiscal year with a $73,000 deficit, much lower than earlier projections that were four times higher. In 2012-13, Denair operated at a deficit of $709,000. That’s when the Stanislaus County Office of Education stepped in with a loan to avert state takeover of the district.

The loan has since been repaid, a new administrative team is in place, staffing has been calibrated to match current enrollment and morale across all six campuses has markedly improved.

The revised 2014-15 general fund budget of $8.2 million anticipates a revenue surplus of $331,791, Chief Business Officer Linda Covello told Denair trustees Thursday. That will help to replenish the district’s reserves.

“I’m pleased that the budget report shows that our fiscal recovery plan remains on a proper and positive trajectory,” said Superintendent Aaron Rosander, who took over in February. “Based on this report, it appears that Denair schools may well be out of the red and into the black by or before the end of next school year. This is indeed good news for DUSD.”

Douglas Crancer, a school funding expert sent to Denair by the state, said while there are still uncertainties regarding state funding and future pension costs, “We’re definitely on our way to gaining fiscal health.”

One of the key revenue streams for any public school district is based upon average daily attendance, or ADA. The state pays Denair an average of about $7,600 per student enrolled in the district.

Denair’s enrollment this year is projected to be 1,287, down from 1,353 in 2013-14. The district’s enrollment peaked at 1,553 students in 2011-12. Continue reading “Budget Picture Brighter at Denair Unified” »

Denair Unified School District Passes Budget

DUSD_logo-SmallDenair school trustees passed a lean budget Thursday night while reassuring community members that the district is committed to sustained academic excellence even as it keeps a watchful eye on expenses.

After hearing an analysis by the district’s financial team, trustees voted 4-0 to pass the $8.15 million budget for 2014-15. The district expects to have a $130,000 deficit, but will not require any financial assistance from the Stanislaus County Office of Education. The past two years, the county office loaned the district $2.4 million to prevent state takeover.

By 2015-16, Denair officials expect to have about $370,000 more in revenue than expenses.

“We want to let parents know that we’re not just in survival mode,” Trustee John Plett said after the meeting. “We want the highest quality classes in arts, in math, in science, in English; we’ve not lost sight of that. We’ve hit a speed bump the past couple of years, but students still can get a quality education here.”

Plett joined Trustees Kathi Dunham-Filson, Carolyn Brown and Robert Hodges in passing the budget. Trustee Sandi Dirkse was absent.

“Even though the budget is lean, nothing has been taken away,” said Dunham-Filson. “We still do music. We still do languages. We still do ag. We still do many programs.” Continue reading “Denair Unified School District Passes Budget” »