Friday, April 27, 2012

From the Superintendent: Budget Update

Bill Kowba It has been some time since I have updated the staff and community on the budget and related staffing issues.  Let me take a moment in this Friday Note to paint the current picture.  We are in the uncertain period between the March 15 submission of the second interim financial report and the release of the Governor’s May Revise 2012-13 budget.  There is much budget discussion and debate ongoing in Sacramento, but no decisions. 

Concurrently, San Diego Unified and other school districts are continuing their budget development as dictated by the California Education Code. This past Tuesday, the Board of Education had to make another extremely difficult decision, authorizing the issuance of layoff notices to more than 975 classified support staff.  This figure includes 385 personnel in the early childhood education program who are directly impacted by state funding cuts to preschool programs. The classified number, combined with the 1,656 certificated staff who already received preliminary layoff notices, equals a staggering 2,631 of our dedicated employees affected by the state’s enduring economic woes.

Another parallel activity was last week’s Administrative Law Judge  hearings that were held in response to the certificated layoff notices.  We are now standing by for the judge's decisions before presenting an updated certificated layoff list to the Board.  The layoff notice numbers will likely be adjusted  a bit as a result of the judge's decision and could subsequently be altered by other dynamics such as near-term decisions of the Governor and/or legislature.   In the meantime, the terrible reality is that the layoff process must proceed in accordance with specified Education Code procedures that include the dissemination of final layoff notices to hundreds of our certificated staff in May..

At this point in the 2012-13 budget cycle, our calculated deficit for next year remains at $122 million.  With a revenue gap of that magnitude, the proposed program and personnel reductions highlighted in the March 15 second interim financial report remain in effect.  As the district heads into the homestretch of our 2012-13 budget adoption process, the California budget outlook for public education continues to look grim.  The state controller is reporting that California revenues may come in more than $2 billion below projections.  This disconnect could further undermine the state’s ability to adequately fund public education next year.

The Governor’s May Revise budget proposal may come out at a later date than is the norm.  We may not know the full impact of his proposal until after May 20.  While many assume that this is the final direction for the preparation of next year’s budget, it is probably not the final word.  I expect the  budget uncertainties will spill into June as the legislature weighs in with responses to the May Revise.  We will eventually arrive at a final state budget and an adopted district budget but still have to prepare for another major uncertainty, the outcome of November tax ballot measures.

Clearly, we are operating in an ambiguous and fluid budget process, one that is, in no way, synchronized between the state and local agencies. We all want clarity and certainty and there is none to be had at the moment.  We will do all that is possible to keep you informed.  I am firmly committed to seeking the solutions that will best mitigate the detrimental effects on our students, staff, and programs; resolve the budget deficit; and create a balanced 2012-13 budget.  I will work closely with all stakeholder groups to deflect the financial blows, but we all know that there will be some direct hits.

In closing,  words are inadequate to express my deepest appreciation to the entire staff for their steadfast support of our students and laser-focus on academic excellence during this unprecedented, financially turbulent time.  We are a team and by working collectively and collaboratively, we will get through this together.
Bill Kowba