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California schools: Painful cuts around the corner, despite windfall

Posted on January 20, 2018 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)


Despite an unexpected $3 billion infusion in K-12 revenue for the coming year, schools throughout the state are honing their electronic blue pencils to slash budgets.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to boost school funding to $56.7 billion “is not likely to be enough to mitigate any of the other crises districts are facing,” said Mary Ann Dewan, interim superintendent of the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

In San Jose, the Oak Grove School District still plans to close three or four elementary schools in the fall. The East Side Union High School District board resolved to eliminate 66 jobs over two years. And Oakland Unified isn’t reversing the $9 million in painful cuts for this school year — although state funds could soften $11.2 million in trims laid out for next year.

As they cut spending, school officials will face a tough sell to constituents wondering what happened to the new “extra” cash — especially when the combination of federal, state and local funds for K-12 are expected to total a record $95.6 billion in the next fiscal year, a 2.5 percent increase. That comes to $16,085 per pupil.

Of the $3 billion excess designated for schools, half is for cost-of-living increases and the other half simply completes a 2013 promise two years early — to restore schools’ pre-recession purchasing power. For a decade, schools have been struggling to catch up to where they were in 2007-’08.

Meanwhile, costs of benefits, salaries and operations have escalated. Under a deal to help keep the state retirement systems afloat, school districts must devote a greater chunk to pensions — 16.3 percent of teacher payroll next year and likely a similar percentage for support-staff pensions.

In recent years, many districts granted employees generous raises to make up for recession-era frugality. Some like Oak Grove are being squeezed by declining enrollment, forcing state revenue to plummet faster than the districts can reduce costs.

Brown’s proposal “only takes care of the problem for one year,” wrote Rose Ramos, chief business officer of the Mount Diablo Unified School District in Concord.

As they take up next school year’s budgets, districts like East Side Union could choose not to lay off as many employees, Superintendent Chris Funk said, but “all that does is kick the can down the road a year or two.”

If the budget that emerges in June follows Brown’s proposal, “It will help us just a little bit now,” said Jeff Bowman of the Cupertino Union School District, which faces cutting $5 million in 2018-’19, after trimming $2.6 million last spring. “We’re still behind.”

Cupertino doesn’t receive nearly as much state aid as other districts. Under Brown’s 2013 reform — dubbed the Local Control Funding Formula — schools that have a higher number of harder-to-educate students receive more funds. Ravenswood in East Palo Alto and Alum Rock in San Jose are among the top recipients in the state in aid per student. At the bottom are those in wealthy enclaves with few poor and English-learner students: San Ramon Valley Unified, Walnut Creek Elementary, Belmont-Redwood Shores, Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda in Contra Costa County.

Under Brown’s plan, San Ramon would receive an additional $8 million in ongoing funds and $9 million in one-time funds, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich.

While she welcomed the governor’s budget, she said it was too early for the district to provide any details of how the extra funds might be used.

School officials also will have to explain how the annual increases that schools enjoyed in recent years are about to disappear, now that Brown has achieved the goals of his Local Control Funding Formula.

That was his legacy, said Ron Bennett, CEO of School Services of California. “I think he wanted to make sure it was fully implemented before he left office.” Bennett’s firm offers fiscal advice to most of California’s 1,000 school districts.

But masked by the state’s $6.1 billion projected surplus and the fat boost in education funding in Brown’s last year in office, Bennett said, the governor failed to restore education spending to the premiere status it held in his youth.

“I’m disappointed that absolutely nothing has been done to move California back on par with higher-spending states,” Bennett said.

While high spending doesn’t guarantee high achievement, Bennett points out parallels between low spending and low achievement. California is about 45th among states in per-pupil education spending, he noted, and at a similar level in achievement on standardized tests.

Measured by ratios of students to teachers, administrators, librarians, counselors and psychologists, he said. “California is a high-tax state,” he said, “with a low commitment to public education.”

But pointing that out to the public is a hard sell, as is explaining that a school district is cash-poor because of its demographics. “Overall, it is very confusing for families,” Bowman said. “It’s confusing for the educators who live it every day.”

The impact of rising pension costs

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

CSBA put together an excellent handout on the impact of rising pension costs.  This is a great tool for board meetings or other forums with your stakeholders.  Be sure to bookmark this one!

California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Eastern Section's Annual Conference 2.0!

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (1)

Registration is now open for the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Eastern Section's Annual Conference 2.0!

This year's annual event will be held at the Riverside County Office of Education on Monday, September 25, 2017. This half-day professional development event offers a variety of break-out sessions, with an opportunity to meet and greet vendors, win exciting raffle prizes from sponsored vendors, and one lucky attendee will even win a complimentary 2018 Annual Conference registration from CASBO!

Attendance to this event qualifies for 3.5 hours of CASBO Continuing Education credit as well!

You may choose from any of the following great sessions upon registration:

Child Nutrition:

§ "Do you think you're SACSy?" (1 Hour Session)

Presenter: Jennifer Marrone, Business Manager, Food & Nutrition Services, San Diego USD

§ "Child Nutrition Procurement, Implementing Buy America Procedures" (1 Hour Session)

Presenter: Bob Quanstrom, Director, Nutrition Services, Val Verde USD


§ "Night of the Living LCAP" (2 Hours Session)

Panelists: Thomas Cassida, Director of Business Advisory Services, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

Veronica Calderon, GA Generalist II, Lewis Center for Educational Research

Jeffrey Hinshaw, Director of Fiscal Services, Alvord USD

Jesus Holguin, Fiscal Analyst II, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

Human Resource:

§ "Telling Your Story with Generational Preferences in Mind" (2 Hours Session)

Presenter: Dr. Suzette Lovely, Former Superintendent, Carlsbad USD


§ "Keeping up with Wage & Hour Law" (2 Hours Session)

Presenter: Todd Robins, Partner, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo


§ "E-Rate" (2 Hours Session)

Presenter: Paula Prieto, Administrator I, Information Technology Services, Riverside COE with CSM Consulting

This year, our keynote luncheon speaker Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools, Moreno Valley Unified School District, will be talk on "Professional Development & Growth Opportunities".

Registration includes continental breakfast and lunch. Attached are the Annual Conference 2.0 event flyer, RCOE location map, and RCOE parking information.

Online registration is now open at and closes on Monday, September 18, 2017.

Governor signs 2017-18 budget allocating more money to schools

Posted on June 28, 2017 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

We have a budget.......

Ed Source

Teresa Harrington

June 28, 2017

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the $183 billion state budget on Tuesday, after announcing he had reached an agreement on the details with legislative leaders earlier this month.


“California is taking decisive action by enacting a balanced state budget,” Brown said. “This budget provides money to repair our roads and bridges, pay down debt, invest in schools, fund the earned income tax credit and provide Medi-Cal health care for millions of Californians.”


The 2017-18 budget allocates more money to K-12 schools and community colleges, expected to increase by $3.1 billion over the 2016-17 level to $74.5 billion. School districts’ share of the increase will include $1.4 million more for the Local Control Funding Formula, bringing its full implementation to 97 percent complete.


Higher education including the University of California and California State University systems will receive $14.5 billion in General Fund money, with new funding to expand access to public institutions for California students and the creation of “guided pathways” that will enable students to earn degrees or credentials, while keeping attendance costs low.


A Full-Time Student Success Program will receive a $25 million increase to expand grant awards to community college students. And a new California Community College Completion Grant Program will receive $25 million to provide grants of up to $2,000 for community college students in need of financial aid who enroll in 15 units or more per semester and meet other criteria, including the completion of an educational plan.


The Middle Class Scholarship and maximum Cal Grant award of $9,084 for students attending private, nonprofit and accredited colleges and universities will be maintained, after the governor initially proposed to phase out the middle class scholarship and reduce Cal Grant awards to students in private, nonprofit colleges and universities.


The budget also requires the University of California to implement cost structure reforms to ensure the system is sustainable into the future, in part based on a critical audit of the office of the president.


Teacher training funding includes $25 million to expand a Classified Employee Teacher Credential Program that will provide grants to support recruiting of non-certificated school employees to participate in teacher preparation leading to becoming certificated public school teachers; $5 million to create a Bilingual Teacher Recruitment and Professional Development Program that will provide competitive grants to support training for teachers and instructional assistants who want to provide bilingual instruction in multilingual classrooms; and $11.3 million earmarked for a California Educator Development Program that will provide one-time competitive grants to assist schools and districts in recruiting and providing ongoing training for educators and school leaders in high-need subjects and schools through the redirection of federal Title II funds, which were originally earmarked for preparing, training, and recruiting high quality teachers and principals.


The budget also increases child care provider reimbursement rate ceilings, due to the state minimum wage increase. In addition, it increases child care eligibility by establishing that a family determined to be eligible for state-subsidized child care and development programs remains eligible for 12 months, regardless of a change in need or income, unless income exceeds 85 percent of the state median income.


Finally, the budget includes a $7.9 million increase to provide access for an additional 2,959 children from low-income families to full-day state preschool starting March 1, 2018.

LCFF Implementation and Impact Conference

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Looking for an update on the state of LCFF implementation?  This meeting might be perfect for you then!


Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 1:00pm to 4:30pm


California Secretary of State Office Building Auditorium


1500 11th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is excited to invite you to The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Implementation and Impact Conference. 

Job Openings

Posted on May 26, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Per Bill McGuire:

Great Job, with new Superintendent Ben Drati (I know from by Clovis Unified Days). Pay is 163,600 and closes on June 5th. Let me know if you have any questions.

Pass this along to a person with a great future if you are not interested!

Gov. Brown's proposal delays $1 billion for schools until 2019

Posted on May 22, 2017 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The Governor's decision to delay funding the one time discretionary funds has created quite a stir in education.  Be sure to read this interesting article about it.

California's largest charter group pushes its agenda with money and people power

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

It is amazing that CCSA is now viewed as a major player and rival to CTA.  I wonder if we will ever arrive at a place where school districts and charters can live in a non-adversarial manner?

Latest CASBO Job Openings

Posted on April 28, 2017 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Yes, it's that time of year again....interview season...

Here are the latest CASBO job openings.  Remember, if you are looking for a CBO position, be sure to send a copy of your current resume to SSC and let them know you are interested in opportunties.

As always, if you need help preparing for interviews, just let me know.