The Rancho Santa Fe School District has already begun to chip away at its deficit spending –approving a modified 2018-19 budget on June 22 with a deficit that is $555,228 less than the one proposed just the week before.
“Over the last week we went through and found some additional cost efficiencies which helped us bring down some of the spending and hopefully over time we’ll be able to grow that out as we look to the following years,” Chief Business Officer Brad Johnson said at the June 22 special meeting. “We will still deficit spend for this year and will look to be as conservative as possible for spending.”
The board approved its 2018-19 budget with $11,968,621 in revenues and $12,397,681 in expenditures.While the board had previously been considering a $984,308 deficit for 2018-19, it is now projected to be a deficit of $429,060.
In addition to some cost savings, Johnson said the newly modified budget also reflects an increase in revenue of about $113,138 in one-time funding from the state.
The cost-efficiencies that the district found ultimately do not impact students, Superintendent David Jaffe said, noting some of the things that were pulled out of the budget were things that are “nice to have” items.
Johnson said they saved $213,576 in labor costs by removing a vacant special education position from the budget, modifying the teacher counts required for some programs they were looking to implement and not spending on some minor stipends.
The district achieved technology and equipment savings of $127,000 by deciding not to replace a theater speaker system and forgoing classroom computer upgrades that were not immediately needed due of the implementation of one-to-one iPads.
“We sharpened our pencil on the elementary middle school and district office materials and supplies,” Johnson said of another $34,550 in savings.
Johnson said multi-year projections at current staffing levels show deficit spending of $670,000 and $717,000 over the next two years and the reserve fund will decrease year over year, although maintaining over the 3 percent level that is required.
RSF School Board President Todd Frank said the multi-year projection serves as more of a forecasting of a running rate, on paper.
“We cannot operate by spending more than we bring in, period. That looks to be corrected over the next year, to bring in a balanced budget,” Frank said. “Fortunately, based on the success and foresight of the of the people that came before us, we have a reserve that allows us in transition periods to absorb what is $1.2 million over last year and the coming year in order to impact children and programs least. It’s more of a warning for us to rightsize over the coming fiscal year.”
Board member Scott Kahn said that it will be an exercise in controlled spending and being mindful about how they spend.
Board member Sarah Neal said that in her first time going through the budget process she appreciated the thorough budget presentation the week before but advised that they start the process earlier in making these kinds of spending adjustments.
“It felt late in the game,” Neal said. “I’m glad we made some changes but I’d like to start earlier with these discussions if possible.”