By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale Unified School District is moving closer towards restoring lost funding according to new projections from the district and the recently revised budget from the governor’s office. However, GUSD officials were also cautious at their May 19 board of education meeting not to regard the increases in funding as a resolution to the district’s financial issues.
GUSD Superintendent Richard Sheehan said that budgetary deferrals from past years have left a funding gap too wide to be filled by the latest state budget. Sheehan said the revised May budget was a step in the right direction, but brings the district “only one third of the way back towards restoration of where we were in 2007-08.”
“To have some of the legislators tell us how they’ve restored education funding – they haven’t restored it,” he said.
GUSD Chief Business and Financial Officer Robert McEntire presented the district’s proposed budget to the board Tuesday night and echoed Sheehan’s comments, saying that full restoration of funds would not come with these new dollars.
“While the governor has promised a lot of what sounds like new money, it really goes a long way in helping us get back to where we were, but we’re still going to be falling short,” said McEntire. “If every penny shows up as the governor proposed in the May revise, we will still be 20% shy of where we were in 2007-08.”
McEntire said there will be a projected net revenue increase of $14.4 million next year in GUSD funds, lifting the district from 58% of the way towards being fully funded to 80%.
The governor’s May revise aims to reimburse school districts for mandatory payments made towards particular programs. McEntire said the “governor has increased the mandate payment from $1.1 billion from $3.5 billion statewide” in one-time Proposition 98 funds for implementation of state-adopted academic standards and reimbursement.
The final adoption of the GUSD budget will be up for approval on June 16 with regard to the latest numbers from the governor’s May revise.
McEntire noted that an estimated 11% of the state funding will be going towards the Local Control Accountability Plan, which is being developed by the district’s LCAP committee.
District officials also covered the recommendations of the LCAP committee towards fulfilling seven major goals identified as key for the district.
The LCAP committee comprises 75 members, mostly parents, but also teachers, administrators, students, classified staff, bargaining unit members, counselors, psychologists and board of education members. The committee met throughout the year and conducted surveys to gather input on what direction the district should take in utilizing state funds.
Among the goals of the committee are implementing the Common Core State Standards, getting students “college and career ready,” developing intervention programs for students not yet proficient, ensuring the social and emotional wellbeing of the students, learning beyond the Common Core, engaging parents and the community at-large and securing the safety of district schools.
Dr. Deb Rinder, senior director of Secondary Services, led the presentation on what the committee has accomplished in the last year and what it intends for the 2015-16 school year.
Based on input from numerous stakeholders, the LCAP committee has recommended reductions in class sizes, increases in mental health providers and trained nursing staff at district school sites, summer and afterschool programs as part of intervention strategies and teacher specialists for FLAG programs.
The committee also hopes to build on programs started this year, such as implementation of the iReady program, expanding the installation of a camera system at all school sites, increasing the available electives to go “beyond the Core,” training staff on positive behavioral intervention strategies and providing workshops for parents and students on college and career opportunities.