SDUHSD looking to close $9.2 million deficit by June


The San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board approved its second interim budget for the 2016-17 school year at its March 9 meeting, a projected income of $131,982,190 and projected expenditures at $141,226,363. Over the next few months, the board will look at ways to chip away at a deficit of $9.2 million, focusing on savings found away from the classroom.

Chief Financial Officer Delores Perley said very little has changed since the first interim budget approved in December — revenue has increased by $2 million and expenditures are up by $1.5 million. The district is projecting to maintain an 11.6 percent reserve of $16 million but multi-year deficit spending will continue to erode the reserves.

Reducing the deficit and restoring the reserves remains a priority, Perley said. As the district begins to prepare for the end of the school year and preparation of a new adopted budget, staff will look at ways to save when possible by lowering operational budgets to reflect actual spending, she said.

SDHUSD Trustee Mo Muir again reiterated her disappointment with the $9.2 deficit and expressed concerns about rising retirement costs.

SDUHSD Superintendent Eric Dill said the district is aware of inflation of retirement costs and they are built into the budget. He said he expects the district to see some revenue growth, but he ensured the board that they would not be spending every new dollar that comes in. Even if the district receives a “rosy revenue” picture from Governor Jerry Brown in May, he said he would still advise the district to move forward in capturing operational savings.

“We need to hold tight on expenditures and we need to make effective use of increased revenue as it comes in to help bolster the reserves and close the deficit,” Dill said.

The board will hold Local Control Accountability Plan (required by the LCCF) and budget workshops in April and May. In May, Dill will bring forward recommended additions and subtractions to be built into the budget. The budget will be brought back for approval in June.

“Year in and year out, we reach a point around now where things are looking pretty desperate, but a great portion of that is because we are so conservative in our projections,” said SDUHSD Vice President Joyce Dalessandro. “By year end, it always looks better. I can’t think of a year that it didn’t. And I’ve been here a lot of years.”