Prop 30 provides relief, but isn't schools' magic cure in Folsom Cordova Unified School District

Guest Editorial
By: Rhonda Crawford, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Special to the Telegraph
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While Proposition 30’s success at the polls does provide relief for our schools, it is not an automatic solution to all district financial issues.

The misconception with the passage of Proposition 30 is school districts are receiving additional funding, when in reality we are only expecting the same funding for the current school year we received last year, a situation known as “flat funding.” For Folsom Cordova, the passage of Proposition 30 means we avoided a $457 reduction per student totaling $8.3 million in funding, up to a three-week reduction in the school year, and the potential layoff of many classified positions such as bus drivers and library clerks.

Although this is a large burden lifted from our district, “flat funding” still means that the state holds back 22.272 percent from schools each year, totaling $27.4 million annually for Folsom Cordova.

While Proposition 30 provides some relief, we still are faced with layoffs due to the ongoing reduction in funding and loss of grant funding. We are deficit spending 22 percent, which means expenditures exceed revenues but we are using our reserves to fill the gap. We are also faced with declining enrollment, which also results in decreased revenue.

Federal sequestration has created much uncertainty for us as we start looking at next year’s budgets. Because many of our federal categorical programs could be hit with a potential 8 percent reduction next year, we must look at potential layoffs in order to balance our budgets. This is something we absolutely do not want to do but may be forced to consider.

We also have grants from state categorical programs. Several of these programs are awarded on an annual basis, either through a competitive process or through need. Two such programs Folsom Cordova did not receive were the Refugee Children Supplemental Grant and Early Mental Health Initiative, resulting in the layoff of employees due to lack of funding.

With the outcome of the governor’s proposed state budget for 2013-2014 and its impact on FCUSD still unknown, it is difficult for us to project staffing needs and plan our budgets along with potential changes in categorical programs. A large part of the governor’s proposal is a new funding calculation for schools known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

This new formula would mean a reduction in funding of $1 million for 2013-14 and $12 million by 2019-20 for Folsom Cordova. Unfortunately, with all these unknowns, layoffs are still a reality for many school districts in California.

Rhonda Crawford is the chief financial officer for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District.