Under the direction of new Superintendent Robert Haley, the San Dieguito Union High School District has been working on more efficient budget making and whittling away at its deficit spending. At the SDUHSD board’s June 6 meeting, they reviewed the 2019-20 budget which projects deficit spending of $3.4 million. Eyeing the multi-year outlook, the district looks to be out of deficit spending by the 2020-21 school year.
The board will approve its budget at the month’s second meeting on June 20. While the numbers will not be final until August, the district is looking to close out the 2018-19 school year with a $6.8 million deficit.
For 2019-20, San Dieguito is budgeting for total income of $144,202,253 with projected expenditures of $147,637,139. Associate Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas said they are projecting to end the 19-20 year with reserves of $9.4 million or 7 percent.
The district is projecting an increase in revenue due to an increase in enrollment. While enrollment is down in other school districts, Douglas said the district is fortunate to see the increase to an estimated 13,205 students in 2019-20.
Douglas noted that enrollment is used to determine staffing but the district is funded on average daily attendance, which is projected to be 12,630.
On the expenditure side, employee salaries and benefits make up 86 percent of the budget and the district will benefit from a decrease in its contribution to the California State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), from 18.13 percent to 16.70 percent.
Douglas said differently than past years, the budget is more closely aligned to what they have actually been receiving and paying.
Douglas said previously the district had been budgeting an expense for items that they may get reimbursed for from the high school foundations and not budgeting the foundation revenue.
“Normal practice across the state is you don’t budget for donations until you actually receive the donation. However, we have foundations here that are very giving to our school community and we have year over year received foundation donations,” Douglas said. “So what we’ve done is actually have included some of that revenue into the budget.”
Douglas said starting in January, the district’s new director of fiscal services, Dawn Campbell, has been working with school sites and departments to draft budgets that are as reflective as possible of what they actually spend.
“Our brand new administration team has spent a lot of time and effort meeting with every school site principal and department head,” Douglas said. “It was done in the past but not to the level that we’re seeing. We are really asking questions, like ‘why do you need that dollar if you haven’t spent it?’”
Campbell has also developed tools to help site principals manage budgets more appropriately.
SDUHSD Vice President Mo Muir complimented district staff on their work in making “every dollar count” as she has been very concerned about the years of deficit spending.
At the June 20 meeting, the board will also approve its Local Control Accountability Plan, which details how the district will use supplemental funding from the state to serve its English learner, foster and homeless youth and low-income students. According to Manuel Zapata, director of accountability and special programs, those groups of students represent just 11 percent of the student population and the district receives a relatively small amount from the Local Control Funding Formula— about $2.6 million was spent during the 2018-19 school year.