A 2019-20 budget with a beginning fund balance of slightly more than $10 million was approved last week by the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District board of education.

While that was good news, especially considering a budget reduction plan based on the first interim financial report, the multi-year projection shows a continued decrease in the ending fund balance by an average of $2.15 million a year over the next three. Among the reasons is a decrease in enrollment by an estimated 80 to 100 students per year and a rise in pension rates, according to a budget presentation provided by Eric Vreeman, assistant superintendent of Business Services.

“They may change, as budgets do. If there are changes, then we have 45 days to redo the budget. I just want you to know there are a lot of things out there that are still unknown,” Vreeman said, pointing out the governor had still not signed his budget by the June 25 meeting, when the Local Control and Accountability Plan was also approved. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state budget later in the week.

“The budget is really only real at one time a year and that is in September when we close the books,” Vreeman said, referring to revenue and expenditures from the previous fiscal year. “We are estimating that our ending fund balance is $10 million at the end of the year.”

The ending fund balance for the 2018-19 fiscal year and the beginning fund balance for the 2019-20 fiscal year is projected to be $10,139,669.

“It’s an ongoing process,” Board President Chuck Christie said in agreement after the unanimous vote of approval.

Despite the projected continued decrease in the ending fund balance, the budget was positively certified because the district will be able to pay its bills three years out and maintain a 3 percent reserve for economic uncertainty, Vreeman said.

He explained there was concern about that following the first interim financial report in March.

“One of the major things we have to put in the budget is an estimation of enrollment for the next three years,” Vreeman said. “This time last year, we had projected that we would receive 80 new students the following year, which would be this year.”

“What happened is those 80 students did not materialize,” he said, continuing. “Actually, we went 170 students in the negative. In the budget, that’s a 250-student change.

“After first interim (budget), we did a budget reduction plan that we put in the second interim. And the budget reduction plan, as you know, was 27.2 teaching positions as well as classified positions. With that budget reduction plan, at the second interim we were positive.”

By eliminating 27.2 teaching positions and five classified positions, the district reduced its budget by $2.8 million. With retirements and resignations, only three teachers were laid off.

In closing, Vreeman said there are three main areas of spending that could really impact the budget – special education funding, pension relief and preschool funding.

“We are waiting to see what that looks like,” he said.

President Christie wanted to call attention to a new addition to the budget documents, a 2019-20 District Budget Book. He called it “a new venture.”

“It really looks at the revenues, the expenditures of the district, basically the changes,” he said. “It also breaks it down site-by-site basis and has a sense of where the revenue is coming from and where the expenditures are. I look at that as an important step forward.”

He also commented the 23-page book, put together by Fiscal Services Coordinator Keith Bacon, was a valuable resource for the community.

“I also see it as a very important document that provides information in a digestible manner for the general public as they are looking at what are you getting in terms of resources, where and how are you spending it,” Christie said.

To view the budget book, which is attached to the June 25 meeting agenda, or for more information on the school district, visit www.yucaipaschools.com.

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