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District Budget Concerns Due to COVID-19 Discussed

No one is free from the effects of COVID-19, especially the Santa Clara Unified School District. On top of dealing with sudden school closures and planning for reopening, the Board of Trustees also had to look soberly at their future budget situation.

 

The Budget

At the Board meeting on June 11, Chief Business Official Eric Dill presented the District’s 2020-21 Proposed General Fund Budget.

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The current goal: budget stabilization and hopefully avoid tens of millions of dollars in deficits. The District has “healthy reserves,” as Board Vice President Jodi Muirhead pointed out. However, according to the presentation which made broad assumptions and looked at multiyear projections, cuts are inevitable, it just depends on when they will be introduced. Dill said they will look into a mix of traditional budget saving techniques as well as creative solutions.

Board Members echoed each other in saying that cuts should be kept as far away from the students as possible. They agreed to prioritize “need to haves” versus “nice to haves.”

Dill explained that the proposed budget has the most up-to-date information available and is based on the Governor’s May Revise which predicts state budget cuts unless they can secure federal funding. Additionally, the budget is based on the assumption that they will be opening schools for in-person instruction.

The 2020-21 Adopted Budget will come for Board approval at the next meeting. However, just like most things these days, the future is uncertain so Dill will continue to monitor any changes that will affect the District’s financial future. Revisions are highly possible should things change.

 

COVID-19 Operations

In April, Executive Order N-56-20 was enacted. Among other things, the order established the requirement that the District adopt a written report — the COVID-19 Operations Written Report — explaining the changes to program offerings the District made in response to COVID-19 school closures and the impacts of the closures.

Kathie Kanavel, an Assistant Superintendent, presented a draft of the report. It will come back to a future meeting and will be available for families on the District’s website.

The order also issued timeline and approval waivers for the Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, and Budget Overview for Parents as well as waving certain budgetary requirements.

 

Recognitions

This quarter’s District Difference Makers were Tom Ostrander, a parent and the PTA President at Westwood; Rita Barone, the District’s Wellness Coordinator; and Claudia Lopez, a Special Education Teacher.

 

Upcoming Election

The Board quickly approved Resolution #20-15, Order of Elections, Specification of the Election Order and Consolidation Request. There is an election in November 2020 and this resolution will enable the District to consolidate a Biennial Governing Board Member Election for the purpose of electing three members of the Governing Board. The three Governing Board Members to be elected are from Area 2 — two full term positions — and Area 3 — one full term position.

 

Other Business

The Board discussed whether they will support Resolution #20-18, Support of Digital Access and Inclusion. This resolution was authored by the County Office of Education. According to the Board’s agenda, approximately 30 percent of students in Santa Clara County have no or limited access to broadband internet at home and the majority of the students live in low-income households. This item will come back to a future Board meeting.

The Board approved hiring Kristin Dentone as the new Vice Principal of Cabrillo Middle School. They also approved the 2020-2021 Classified Unrepresented Hourly Employee Salary Schedule. 

The Board Members discussed their possible attendance at the 2020 CSBA Education Conference and Trade Show in Anaheim in December. With the earlier discussion on the budget in mind, they decided to wait to register.

The Board will meet on Thursday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m. for a study session on the Strategic Vision and then they’ll have their last meeting before summer break on Thursday, June 25 a 6:30 p.m.

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