Wednesday, June 10, 2015

@SVUSD1 @svhsdragons 2015-16 Budget "Best 3 Year Projection in Years."

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District had the first read of its 2015-16 budget on Tuesday night, presented by John Bartolome, the District's Chief Business Official.  John, for those of you who don't know him, is a graduate of Purdue University, helps out faithfully with the Sonoma Valley High School Wrestling Team, and apparently is one hell of a golfer.  He also had the chance, with this budget, to give Sonoma Valley Unified some of the best budget news it has ever had. I got the video courtesy of SVTV, which is very much appreciated. The video runs about 20 minutes, but I recommend it to anyone interested in a succinct picture of how things now look after the past half-decade of cuts.
John does a very nice job of explaining what's taking place; there's some terminology that can be confusing. To make sure nobody gets lost, LCFF stands for "Local Control Funding Formula," which is the new (reformed) method of financing public schools in California.  It was supposed to be phased in to its planned level through 2021–that is, schools weren't planned to be fully funded in California for another half a decade.  But, given the improvement in California's budget, school funding under LCFF has reached 70% of the 2021 figure. 

There's some discussion of deficit spending.  The district "planned" to run a deficit in the last year, and has done so for several years; that was due probably to the conservative projections made on funding.  When the local economy takes it in the teeth, that's what reserves are, of course, for, and the level of State funding has gotten to the point where the budget is essentially balanced as of 2017-18, which is a very significant change from years past.

There's also some discussion in the presentation of the concept of "Basic Aid," which is a special system under the line of legislative responses to Serrano v. Priest that allows some Districts to receive more funding than others due to their very high levels of property tax received.  During the most recent economic mess, State funding fell so low that Sonoma Valley actually became a Basic Aid district–which is expected to end in the next year.  Not a bad thing, as John points out, but instead more of a sign of the consequences of an economic recovery (... or of another speculative bubble).