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Santa Clara Unified’s Financial Picture After COVID-19

COVID-19 isn’t gone for good, but Santa Clara Unified School District is finding its footing in a world with COVID-19 and a look at its budget is a peek into that world. At the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Sept. 8, staff shared updates on the budget and how the summer programs went.

 

The Budget

In the most recent financial report, the 2021- 2022 Unaudited Actuals, Chief Business Official Mark A. Schiel reported that Santa Clara Unified had $339,452,327 in total revenue and they had $329,430,105 in total expenditures. Leaving about $10 million in surplus with over $9 million of that being restricted to specific uses and will be spent in the 2022 – 2023 school year.

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On the revenue side of the budget, they overall saw a slight increase in property tax revenues, 3.4%. Schiel noted an increase in secured roll taxes but saw a decline in unsecured property taxes and ongoing RDA income.

“We need to continue to be mindful of the appeals that are going on,” said Schiel. There are currently over 6,737 active appeals in the county that have a potential value of $89.2 billion.

For reserves, they have put aside the minimum 3% for the General Fund. The District also put away some coins towards other reserves, like the Basic Aid Reserve, the Technology Replacement fund and Safety and Security. They now have a $17.7 million restricted fund balance. Fiscal reserves were 59.7% in 2020 – 2021, and they had surplus rather than negative spending in 2021 – 2022 so now they have 54.1% reserves – which is a much better situation than the 50% reserves they anticipated.

In the 2021-2022 school year, they had $17 million in one-time revenue and $18.8 million in one-time expenses.

In property tax updates, the District’s secured revenues have been outpacing their original projections. They thought it was going to be a 4.5% change, but it ended up being 9.4%, which is significant revenue growth, said Schiel.

The County Assessor’s Office informed Schiel’s team that the former Santa Clara Redevelopment Agency has paid off all its remaining debt. Now this year, those RDA properties leave the RDA area and move to the typical secured and unsecured property tax area. On paper, it will look like a $26.6 million decrease in RDA funding and a $23.3 million increase in secured property taxes, but that’s just the money moving around. The $3.3 million that seems to be lost in this change is because these areas are taxed differently.

 

Summer Programs

Summer break is officially behind us so Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Kathie Kanavel presented a report on their summer programs that supported over 2000 students.

The Pre-K – 5 programs were held across three schools and had programs like Elevate Math, Literacy Intervention and Extended School Year. By the end of the summer, they had 712 students enrolled. The middle school programs were held at Buchser and had the usual courses and then enticing courses like art, culinary, robotics and more. They had 382 students enrolled. High schoolers earned 7,719 credits which is “amazing,” said Kanavel. The programs were held at Santa Clara High and Wilcox.

Other programs include Wilson Independent Study Bridge, Mission Early College High School Bridge and the YMCA program. The YMCA program at Scott Lane is grant funded, which helps one of their most economically disadvantaged schools. Kanavel was also very happy with the fee-based camps they were able to offer, like the farm-to-table camp held at the District farm.

The summer programs had $2.5 million in expenditures, reported Kanavel. Much of that came from one-time funding sources, like the ESSER III Grant.

They had their struggles, like staffing and substitute shortages but they were able to serve so many students. Kanavel thanked staff for the collaboration through all departments. They’ve already started planning for next summer’s programs.

 

Other Business

The Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees approved a resolution marking September as Attendance Awareness Month. They also passed the resolution designating Sept. 15 as the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The next Board of Trustees meeting is on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

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