The Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a “once in a lifetime” budget for the 2015-2016 year last Thursday which included significant one-time funding, on-going funds for full-time staff hires, and no new student fee increases.
Assistant Superintendent Robert Miller explained the budget is unique due to the “sheer magnitude” of its revenues, which reach almost $150 million.
Because of Governor Brown’s conservative approach to producing the state budget, the state’s actual general fund revenues greatly surpassed its estimates, creating one-time funding opportunities for schools.
Trustee Ross Selvidge explained, “The $12 million in one-time funds have, for the most part, been spent on one-time expenditures.” This was done intentionally to avoid having to fund on-going projects. The largest portion of these funds, just over $3 million, has gone to building general reserves.
The budget also outlines about $1.4 million for hiring approximately nine new or previously frozen staff positions and $3.4 million for over 50 deferred maintenance projects, such as renovations and expansions.
The board cautioned that despite the comparative growth we are experiencing now, we still live in a boom-and-bust state.
“Anything can happen to cause a severe economic downturn,” Miller said.
“If we take today’s budget and we just move it four years ahead [taking into account rising costs], we’re $35 million less well off than this year. And that’s not a nut we can crack by enrollment growth or additional foreign students,” Selvidge warned.
In his presentation to the board, Joseph Simoneschi, executive director of business services, explained the school will use these good economic times to plan for the next downturn. Part of that plan includes saving for the cessation of Prop 30, an income tax increase that ends in 2018 and provided $18 million to this year’s budget.
Other concerns include rising health care and retirement costs and the need to build up a “rainy day” fund.
The budget hearing was open to public comment but none were made.