Friday, July 8, 2011

Superintendent Announces Restoration of Funding to Maintain K-3 Class Sizes

Superintendent Bill Kowba announced today that he will immediately initiate the restoration of funding in the district’s 2011-12 budget necessary to restore the current student/teacher class size ratios for grades Kindergarten to 3rd grade for the next school year beginning in September. As a result of the level funding for K-12 education that was included in the state budget signed by the Governor last week, additional funds will be available to maintain K-3 class size ratios at current levels for one more year.

The Superintendent’s plan will restore K-3 class size ratios to 24:1 at all schools and maintain a 20:1 ratio at 29 high-poverty schools that currently have that lower ratio. According to Kowba, the district’s initial analysis of the additional revenues that will be available from the adopted state budget will be adequate to support K-3 class size restoration which will retain approximately 300 teachers at an approximate cost of $22 million after accounting for state deferrals.

“The good news from the state budget is that we will have some additional funding for this year to bring back our teachers for our early grades where small class sizes are so important to student academic success,” said Kowba. “But we must all realize that this funding may be temporary and we may even face mid-year cuts should state tax receipts fail to meet expectations. And the fact remains that our district still faces a huge deficit next year which means we may only be able to save these smaller class sizes and teaching jobs for this year only.”

Kowba indicated that the District Chief Financial Officer has completed a preliminary analysis of the state budget from which he concluded that the district can budget an additional $36 million of revenues for 2011-12, but not all of those funds will be paid to the district in the budget year because of state payment deferrals. The state will defer nearly 40 percent of revenue limit payments to school districts until the next budget year and 50 percent of class size reduction (CSR) funding which will mean that San Diego Unified will realize only approximately $27 million in additional cash over the budget adopted by the Board of Education on June 28.

“The district budget for 2011-12 is very tight and there are still many uncertainties with state funding,” said Kowba. “It is essential that we budget to maintain a positive cash flow throughout the next fiscal year and further restorations beyond this K-3 restoration could place the district in a negative cash position which we must avoid to pay our employees and bills on a monthly basis.”

Kowba indicated that district finance staff will continue to evaluate the impacts of the state budget and the district’s financial obligations and provide a more detailed update to the Board of Education on July 12 and July 19. The Board had directed the Superintendent to begin to implement restorations based on additional funding as soon as possible and to make K-3 class size restoration the top priority.

“While this restoration is a positive step our schools will still be dramatically impacted by more than $90 million in program reductions in the coming school year.” Kowba concluded.