RSF School budget includes added staff, safety upgrades

R. Roger Rowe School.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe School District board approved its proposed 2023-24 school year budget on June 15, with additional staffing to support advanced learning opportunities, facilities upgrades and program enhancements.

With proposed revenues of $14.8 million and expenditures of $15.2 million, the district is projecting to deficit spend by $354,671. While the district has been saved by one-time federal funding in the last two years, RSF School Director of Finance Allison Oppeltz said looking ahead to future years the district is projected to continue to increase deficit spending in 2024-25 and 2025-26.

“We are heading into tougher times,” Oppeltz said. “We have to be very mindful of our expenses moving forward, It’s going to be a challenge for us in the next few years, I think we can do it, we’ve just got to be smart.”

Oppeltz said she is committed to taking a close look at expenses along the way.

During the budget hearing on June 9, Oppeltz walked the board through what she believes to be a nice budget for the school year, applauding the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation’s increased $1.1 million contribution on the revenue side and new offerings for students on the expenditure side.

The budget expenditures include staffing increases such as a new K-5 science teacher, literacy support and advanced teachers, a middle school ELA teacher to accommodate the honors reading program, and two additional paraprofessionals.

The district has also hired a new counselor, Kristi Mankhey from the San Marcos Unified District, who will fill the space left vacant by the resignation of the school counselor Carly Bourque in March. Mankhey will be able to provide individual and group counseling, clubs, crisis assessment as well as college and career exploration for middle school students.

“She has all the right energy and she’s someone I think the kids will really connect with,” said Middle School Principal Kelly Stine.

Program additions and enhancements in the budget include K-8 robotics funding, Science Discovery Day, Ocean Week, adding golf, wrestling and tennis back into the middle school athletics program, and bringing back middle school dance.

The budget also includes facilities and summer work including the new roof and an additional room for the school gym (approximately $620,000) and security and safety projects such as the speed bumps in the parking lot and the $84,000 new fencing and concrete stairway close to the community center and adjacent to the upper athletic fields. The fence and new walkway will protect the school from being accessible to the public when they are hosting athletic events during school hours.

At the June 14 meeting, the board approved a 4% on-schedule salary increase for its classified staff and certificated administrators, effective July 1. For 2023-24, 84.9% of the budget is salaries and benefits. Negotiations continue with the Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association and the certificated teachers but the budget includes a proposed salary increase.