The latest audit report by the outside auditing firm Christy White confirms what district critics of its long-term spending spree has said over the past four years. The report states that our district’s General Fund reserve has decreased $8,236,677 over the past two years and that it is projected to decrease another $2,277,070 this current year. That’s over $10.5M in three years!
It seems that school board members in the last four or five years have adopted a quite unique budgetary strategy when approving district budgets—that is, of underestimating annual district costs. Over that time, they have under-estimated district annual expenditures by an average of $2.3M. Compare that with the boards in the first part of this century, which over-estimated district expenses by an average of $257,000.
Now, that there appears to be signs of a cyclical, economic downturn on the horizon, it’s a shame that there were not enough candidates running in the last school board election to hold these current members accountable. I’m sure there were a lot of local voter/taxpayers that would have liked to have heard Board members Steve Levin and Summer McBride try to explain the Board’s reasoning for spending down our district reserves to such a dangerously low level.
By making their publicly-approved budgets seem more balanced than they actually were, board members would be able to financially justify giving district-wide staff over 25% in annual raises over the years.
The accompanying spreadsheet shows a 12-year history of the available reserves of the CCUSD and the percentage of negotiated raises given that year.
Note that our district now has less in its reserves than just before the Great Recession hit in 2008. Then, the district had $4.93M (7.2%) in reserve and according to this year’s audit report, we now have only $3.9M (5.05%) in reserve.