To submit your Budget Considerations, you can either submit them by phone (619-691-5584) or by using our online form available here.
Budget Update – 08.14.2019
An excerpt from the August 12, 2019 Board Meeting Superintendent’s Message
- As you know, each meeting, I take time to acknowledge the hard work and many accomplishments of our students and staff in Sweetwater. This is very deliberate because this means there is progress being made on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis and I want to acknowledge that work and success.
- With that said, I am disappointed and frustrated that once again the San Diego County Office of Education has taken a deficit model perspective and approach to the progress we have made over the past year and the work we are doing now.
- Yes, absolutely, last year we were in fiscal distress. We admitted we were in distress when we reported it to SDCOE in September 2018; and, we took steps daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to right the course; to make adjustments to move from the negative to the positive.
- In regards to our relationship with SDCOE, we have taken the high road at all times; doing our best to keep the disagreements we have with the County staff about their decisions and actions only between our two agencies and not publicized with the media. Unfortunately, this “agreement” was not mutually agreed upon and, as a result, we’ve taken a number of hits (publicly) from the SDCOE whose role, we believe, is to be one of support and not obstruction.
- One question I have is…is SDCOE acting congruent with both the spirit and the letter of AB1200? According to the FCMAT website, “AB1200 is a statewide plan for county offices of education and school districts to work together at the local level to improve fiscal procedures, standards and accountability.” From our perspective, the County has not been working “with” us, but rather continually “moved the goal post” as we work to comply with their requests.
- What is the motivation for the County Office to continually put Sweetwater on display in a negative light, even when not warranted?
- It is important that our staff and community understand our perspective. Let me give the most recent example of the headline of the article on the front page of the UT on Aug. 9 read, “County Rejects School District Budget” with the sub-title “Office of Education: Sweetwater plan not accurate by millions.” That statement is NOT an accurate picture of our adopted budget.
- Since February, Dr. Salkeld and I have been meeting with SDCOE on a weekly basis to discuss topics such as fiscal accountability; retirement (SERP) savings; cash management and cash borrowing; budget interim reports; budget development, projections and solutions; FCMAT AB139 Extraordinary Audit; County of San Diego Treasurer’s loan; and our current and future finance system. Dr. Mark Skvarna, who was appointed SUHSD’s fiscal advisor by SDCOE, and whose role is to report back to the County on whether he thinks the district is making sound financial decisions, has also been included in these dialogues.
- It was at the Aug. 7th meeting SDCOE Deputy Superintendent Mike Simonson said he was going to send us a letter later that day stating our 2019-20 Adopted Budget is being disapproved.
- We were stunned that the County, who says they are working with us, would inform us at noon we would receive a letter disapproving our budget that same day. We asked to have more dialogue regarding the contents. We were advised the discussion would be held after we received the letter.
- We also asked why would SDCOE make this premature decision when we had NOT finished closing the 2018-19 financial books and completed the unaudited actuals.
- Within 24 hours of receiving the letter, there were two published articles about the contents of the letter without the opportunity to discuss as promised by SDCOE.
- SDCOE’s recent letter contains assumptions, suppositions, and hyperbole about our budget that are NOT confirmed. Examples of this in the letter include, “the 2019-20 adopted budget appear to be understated” and “entries totaling $39.9M that appear to have been intentionally left out of the initial document.” This letter discounted and discredited any and all progress we made over the past year, as well as the individuals working on the fiscal recovery plan. We continue to stand by our balanced budget with noted solutions, believing they are reasonable and attainable. As you have heard from Dr. Salkeld, district budgets are a point in time based upon the best information we have at each stage of the budget development. That means they are projections. The statements in the letter from SDCOE, we believe, were made to convince our staff and community that our adopted budget is deliberately not telling the truth about our fiscal reality simply because SDCOE does not agree with our solutions nor our projections.
- What is the truth? The truth is we have hardly had time to take a breath over the past year working to improve our fiscal stability. The truth is we have taken our responsibility very seriously. The truth is we listened to our staff and community and took action to right the course with the least disruption to students. The truth is we are not in crisis right now! Do we still have work to do – absolutely.
- And finally, the truth is we have a list of accomplishments that demonstrated the progress we have all made that helped move us forward as a district.
- Our accomplishments include the following:
- Even with the fiscal distress we were experiencing, we did not lay off one single, permanent employee in our district. We are extremely proud of that! Because we experienced declining enrollment, we needed to reduce/right-size our staff. SDCOE wanted us to lay off staff – our belief is to keep our employees and look for alternatives. Our alternative was the Supplemental Early Retirement Plan (SERP). We have downsized our staff approximately 8% and we did that by eliminating positions, not people!
- As you recall, and as is stated in the recent SDCOE letter, they were vehemently opposed to Sweetwater offering the SERP. Here are the numbers that can be found in our PeopleSoft payroll reports for which SDCOE also has access themselves to view. Since December, we saved $10.5M in cash flow from the General Fund and just over $12M in all funds due to the SERP. None of these savings would have been possible if we had taken the advice of SDCOE to lay off staff. The 336 eligible employees who voluntarily resigned or retired (all from the upper end of the salary schedule) prevented us from having to lay off well over 450 employees (all from the lower end of the salary schedule) to get the same cost savings. And, we are glad we chose the SERP because we are investing in our new employees with programs like New Teacher Induction and other professional development opportunities.
- We created a Position Control Committee that met and continues to meet regularly to determine whether a position is needed and actually in the budget before it is approved.
- The Board approved a Position Control Analyst job whose main responsibility is to be the hub between HR, payroll and finance. That employee is in place and making a valuable contribution in this new role.
- We are still holding collaborative conversations with our Labor Partners and plan to continue that practice.
- On top of the daily work required of our staff last year, we still compiled thousands of documents for various external reviews, Public Record Requests, and requests from the SDCOE.
- We heard what the community said and we stopped borrowing from Mello Roos Fund 49. We, and most districts, still have a need to borrow, but, as of July, we are now borrowing from the County Treasurer.
- School sites and departments meet regularly to discuss budgets and personnel allocations to ensure we are all speaking the same language and understand the expectations.
- Our Adult Ed program has reorganized and the General Fund no longer needs to make a contribution to their program – this was a FCMAT recommendation.
- Over 70 of our classified employees have been promoted within our district to new positions opened as a result of the SERP.
- Those are some of the actions we executed last year and are proud to announce those successes again tonight!
- So, please know – we will continue to move forward with transparency. We not only have the skill to continue making improvements with our fiscal stability, we have the will to make it happen!
- Thank you for your support and collaboration!
Budget Update – 07.26.2019
Message Re: Recent Media about SUHSD
Over the past few days, there has been some discussion in the media about a loan of $12 million that is being offered to the Sweetwater Union High School District by the San Diego County Office of Education. We’d like to take a few moments and share some additional information with our community about this matter.
As most of the community is aware, the 2018-2019 school year was a challenging one for the Sweetwater District. However, with the hard work of all of our stakeholders and the implementation of ongoing budget solutions, our Board of Trustees passed a balanced budget for the 2019-2020 school year.
During the development of our district budget for the 2019-20 school year, several aspects of the district finances were shared, including the district’s practice of temporary borrowing from other funds within the district, specifically the Community Facilities District Fund (Fund 49 – also known as the Mello-Roos Fund).
Since the Sweetwater Union High School District does not receive enough funding from the State to cover payroll expenses in the months of July and August, it is necessary to borrow money to pay our staff.
California Education Code 42603 permits school districts to temporarily borrow from other district funds to address the timing of cash received with certain conditions. Any and all dollars borrowed by the district’s General Fund must be repaid with interest to the fund that was borrowed, thereby increasing the total dollars in the fund upon repayment. Sweetwater has typically borrowed upwards of $70 million from Fund 49 and then repaid it, with interest, once State revenue is received during the school year.
Beginning early in 2019, during presentations to the Board of Trustees, the district shared publicly there would be a balance of between $8 to 14 million still owed to Fund 49 at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2019). The final amount owed to Fund 49 as of June 30, 2019 was $12 million.
The fiscal stabilization plan created by the Sweetwater District accounted for this balance. Per the 2019/20 budgeted cash projections the balance is projected to be at $0 by June 30, 2020.
On July 10, 2019, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) emailed the Sweetwater District with an offer to immediately pay the $12 million back to Fund 49 and Sweetwater would have until June 30, 2020 to pay back the $12 million, plus interest to the SDCOE – approximately $200,000-300,000. The SDCOE Board approved this offer on July 24, 2019 at their regularly scheduled Board Meeting.
Because the Sweetwater District had a balance as of June 30, 2019 there is a finding that will be mentioned in a future financial audit of the district (per California Education Code 42603). Although Sweetwater very much appreciates the willingness of the SDCOE to support our efforts, a loan any time after June 30, 2019 does not change the audit finding.
The next step is for the Sweetwater Board of Trustees to consider the offer made by the SDCOE at a future board meeting, determining if it is in the best interest of the district to borrow these funds. While there are several considerations to take into account, a major factor is repayment of interest. As mentioned earlier, when the district borrows from its own funds and makes repayments with interest, those funds stay within the district. A loan from SDCOE would also have to be repaid with interest, and those funds would go to the SDCOE.
We will continue to update the community as we are able, and we thank you for your continued support of the Sweetwater Union High School District.
Budget Update – 06.03.2019
Budget Update – 03.19.2019
Budget FAQ’s for Students
Over the past few months we have received a lot of questions from students, including our Student Board representative about the Sweetwater Union High School District’s budget and any impact that our budget solutions might have on students. We attended three meetings with the SUHSD High School ASB Presidents who shared their ideas on “topics students want to know” and these are some of the questions they had, along with the responses to those questions.
Will programs such as tutoring, credit recovery, etc. (academic interventions) still be offered at school sites?
Yes. At several schools that receive Title I funds (funding from the federal government for lower socioeconomic status students), there should be no change to the academic intervention programs being offered. At some schools that do not receive Title I dollars you may see some shifts in how interventions are offered, but the intent is still to provide students with the support that they need.
It is important to note that school sites across the district are able to adjust their programs as they see most appropriate to meet student needs. Therefore, the programs that one school might offer do not necessarily mirror what another school offers. If you have questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact your site principal.
Will Summer School be offered in 2019/20?
After trying a new format for summer school over the past few years, we have decided to go back to our previous structure of having three regional sites that will host summer school for the students in that region. Each of these sites will offer a full complement of credit recovery core courses, APEX, Health for acceleration, and several dual-enrollment college course. The final plan details are still being worked out and will be shared with the community when it is completed.
Will activities such as prom, grad night and others be cancelled?
No. Funding for these events comes from separate revenue sources and are not being affected by the budget situation.
Will budgetary issues impact graduation ceremonies and other end-of-the-year events?
Graduation ceremonies and other events (such as awards nights, etc.) will continue as planned.
Are any athletic programs being eliminated?
No. We are very proud of the athletic traditions in Sweetwater Schools and will continue to support our student athletes across all competitive sports.
Is transportation being eliminated from home to school?
No. The district is looking at ways to be more efficient in how we offer transportation and working with school sites on how to minimize costs and resources while still taking advantage of the current fleet we have.
Is transportation being eliminated for Athletics?
No. The district takes pride in being one of the few districts in the county to provide transportation for athletic events, however the district is looking at ways to be more efficient in how we offer transportation for athletics.
Will Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) still be offered?
Yes. The Sweetwater District Board of Trustees recognizes the value in visual and performing arts. The Board continues to believe that a comprehensive arts education program will be an integral part of the core curriculum offered to all students in the Sweetwater District.
Will Career Technical Education (CTE) classes be offered?
Yes, they will be offered. CTE courses at each school site should be determined by school administration taking into account student requests for courses.
Will Assistant Principals be cut at school sites?
Assistant Principals will be in place at all campuses. Due to both declining enrollment and budget constraints, a committee composed of principals, assistant principals, and district staff are developing an equity-based resource allocation that will be used in determining any changes if that is necessary. The safety of our students and staff is a priority in our decision-making process.
How will staff retirements impact students?
For the 2019-2020 school year we expect to start the year with the appropriately credentialed or qualified staff in place for all needed positions.
Will APEX be offered to students for credit recovery?
Yes. APEX will be made available to students in the same way as it has been in previous years.
Informe sobre el presupuesto – 13 de marzo de 2019
Mensaje del superintendente – Junta de la Mesa Directiva del distrito del 11 de marzo de 2019
Esta noche, la Dra. Salkeld, nuestra jefa de finanzas, y yo compartiremos el Plan de Estabilización Fiscal, que realmente es nuestro plan de recuperación para lograr la solvencia fiscal. La Dra. Salkeld también informará sobre nuestro segundo presupuesto interino. Como hemos mencionado en numerosas ocasiones a muchos grupos, los informes de presupuesto siempre son un “punto en el tiempo” basado en la mejor información que tenemos en ese momento. Con cada informe provisional, se ajusta el presupuesto para tener en cuenta los gastos e ingresos reales desde julio de 2018 hasta la fecha del informe provisional. Si revisaron la orden del día, habrán notado que nuestro déficit presupuestario para el ciclo escolar en curso 2018-2019 ha disminuido más de la mitad de $ 10.5 millones a $ 4.9 millones, que constituye el 1% de nuestro presupuesto, y el déficit proyectado para el ciclo escolar 2019-2020 también ha disminuido significativamente poco menos de la mitad de $ 42.4 millones a $ 22.5 millones, que constituye el 4.5% de nuestro presupuesto. Lo anterior ocurrió debido a las soluciones presupuestarias que estamos implementando ahora y que hemos implementado desde octubre de 2018. Primero, permítanme mencionar, que ante todo, identificamos soluciones presupuestarias que tendrían el menor impacto en el alumnado y el aula. Específicamente, la solución presupuestaria a la que me refiero a partir de octubre es el Plan complementario de jubilación temprana, también conocido como el SERP. Agradecemos a la Mesa Directiva del distrito que autorizó que siguiéramos adelante con el SERP a mediados de año, lo cual es muy inusual; agradecemos a nuestros sindicatos laborales que aceptaron presentar el plan a sus miembros; y agradecemos a nuestro personal que trabaja para garantizar que lo implementemos bien. El solo hecho de ofrecer un incentivo de jubilación temprana no garantiza una implementación eficaz. Sin embargo, emplear un incentivo de jubilación temprana, especialmente un incentivo que se ofrece a mediados del año, puede ayudar a calcular el tamaño adecuado de un distrito que ha sufrido una disminución en la cantidad de alumnos matriculados sin recurrir a despidos. El incentivo de jubilación temprana permite que el personal que se encuentra en el extremo superior de la tabla salarial se jubile de manera voluntaria en vez de despedir al personal que se encuentra en el extremo inferior de la tabla salarial. Contamos con un poco más de 4,000 empleados y para junio de 2019, 332 o aproximadamente el 8% de los empleados de Sweetwater habrán aprovechado el SERP. Si tuviéramos que despedir personal, habríamos tenido que despedir a más de 400 de los empleados nuevos para obtener los mismos ahorros en costos que el personal con más años de servicio que se jubiló.
¿Cómo nos ayuda lo antes mencionado para avanzar en el 2019-2020? Escuchará en el segundo informe parcial de esta noche que se prevé que disminuya la cantidad de inscripciones en los próximos dos años. A medida que implementamos estratégicamente el impacto del SERP, nos permitirá ajustar el tamaño de nuestro personal en función de la cantidad de alumnos inscritos mediante el Comité de Control de Puestos que hemos implementado con el fin de garantizar que todas los puestos nuevos o vacantes se incluyan en nuestro presupuesto antes de contratar a una persona nueva o llenar el puesto vacante.
Posiblemente también se enteraron que enviamos notificaciones de posibles despidos a algunos miembros de nuestro equipo administrativo, incluyendo a todos los subdirectores. Dicha acción se tomó por dos razones: 1) El Código de
Educación establece como requisito que para reasignar a un miembro certificado del personal a un puesto distinto, se le debe notificar antes del 15 de marzo; 2) dado que dicho proceso lleva tiempo para informar al personal y completar el papeleo, y como las soluciones presupuestarias aún no habían sido aprobadas por la Mesa Directiva del distrito, debíamos actuar con bastante cautela al tomar dicha acción. No se han tomado decisiones finales. De hecho, si surgiera la necesidad de reducir cualquiera de los puestos de subdirectores, contamos con un grupo de trabajo de directores y subdirectores que actualmente están desarrollando una fórmula de asignación de recursos basada en equidad que se empleará como guía para tomar esas decisiones. Durante el presente año presupuestario, nuestra intención con todos los empleados (maestros, consejeros, personal clasificado, y administrativo) es ajustar el tamaño de nuestro distrito utilizando el SERP y otras soluciones presupuestarias; no despidos. Dicho enfoque ha sido respaldado por la Mesa Directiva del distrito y estamos agradecidos con nuestros sindicatos laborales por colaborar con nosotros en esta solución presupuestaria en específico. Muy a menudo, los distritos escolares dependen de los despidos de personal para generar ahorros. Nuestras creencias y nuestra cultura no considera que esa sea la mejor solución y, si se propone, es sólo como último recurso. Como encontrará en la información que se compartirá esta noche, el SERP ha generado una gran cantidad de ahorros para el distrito que han dado como resultado casi $ 6.5 millones sólo para el presupuesto del año en curso, un número mucho mayor al que habíamos anticipado debido al número real de empleados que aprovecharon el SERP.
Reducir el tamaño del distrito al tamaño correcto también ha generado un aumento en nuestro flujo general de efectivo y una disminución de más de $ 2 millones por mes en nuestra nómina desde diciembre.
Esta noche compartiremos que hemos dado pasos positivos importantes para disminuir pedir prestado de nuestros fondos internos. En la primera presentación parcial de diciembre, hubo un saldo potencial de aproximadamente $ 42 millones en préstamos del Fondo 49. Cabe recordar que el Fondo 49 son nuestros fondos de Mello Roos. Desde enero de 2019, no ha habido préstamos entre fondos y estamos programados para reducir el saldo de los $ 42 millones proyectados a aproximadamente $ 8 millones para junio. De acuerdo a la proyección de los ahorros en general, anticipamos que la cantidad de $ 8M podría ser incluso menor en nuestro presupuesto final adoptado a fines de junio.
Como compartí en la última junta de la Mesa Directiva, abordar nuestra angustia fiscal se compara más con una carrera de larga distancia que con una carrera de velocidad. Hemos sido persistentes en nuestro trabajo y en encontrar soluciones viables que tengan el menor impacto para los alumnos y en el aula; y, confiamos en que al final de este año escolar, presentaremos un presupuesto balanceado a la Mesa Directiva del distrito y a la comunidad de Sweetwater. Hay muchas lecciones que aprender; y siendo una institución educativa, el aprendizaje es importante. Durante los momentos difíciles, queremos demostrar a los alumnos, al personal y a la comunidad que, sin importar los desafíos, trabajaremos en colaboración para llegar a soluciones exitosas. De acuerdo a Maya Angelou, “Podemos enfrentarnos a muchas derrotas (en la vida). Pero no debemos ser derrotados”. El Distrito de Sweetwater avanza unido porque somos más fuertes que la tormenta.
2do. Informe presupuestario parcial ciclo escolar 2018-2019.
Budget Update – 03.13.2019
Superintendent Message – Board Meeting March 11, 2019
- Tonight, Dr. Salkeld, our CFO, and I will share the Fiscal Stabilization Plan, which really is our recovery plan to achieve fiscal solvency. Dr. Salkeld will also report on our 2nd Interim Budget. As we have mentioned many times to many groups, the budget reports are always a “point in time” based upon the best information we have at that point in time. With each interim report, the budget is adjusted to account for actual expenditures and revenues from July 2018 to the date of the interim. If you have reviewed the agenda, you noticed that our budget shortfall for the current 2018-19 school year has decreased more than half from $10.5M to $4.9M which is 1% of our budget, and the projected deficit for 2019-20 school year has also significantly decreased by just under a half from $42.4M to $22.5M which is 4.5% of our budget. This happened because of the budget solutions we are implementing now and have implemented since October of 2018. First, let me mention, that above all, we identified budget solutions that would have the least impact on students and the classroom. Specifically, the budget solution I’m referring to from October is the Supplemental Early Retirement Plan, also known as the SERP. We thank our Board who said we could move forward with the SERP at mid-year which is highly unusual; we thank our labor partners who agreed to take it to their members; and, we appreciate our staff who are working to ensure we implement it well. Just offering an early retirement incentive does not ensure effective implementation. But, using an early retirement incentive, especially one offered mid-year, can help right-size a district that has experienced declining enrollment without resorting to layoffs. An early retirement incentive allows staff who are on the higher end of the salary schedule to voluntarily retire as opposed to laying off staff who are on the lower end of the salary schedule. We have a little over 4,000 employees and 332, or about 8% of Sweetwater employees have or will take advantage of the SERP by June 2019. If we had to lay off staff, we would have needed to layoff over 400 of our newer staff to provide the same cost savings as the veteran staff who retired.
- How does this help going forward into 2019-20? You will hear in the 2nd Interim report tonight that we are projected to decline in enrollment for the next two years. As we strategically implement the impact of the SERP, it will allow us to right-size our staff based upon student enrollment using our Position Control Committee that we have in place that ensures all new or unfilled positions are actually accounted for in our budget before we hire a new person or fill a current vacant position.
- You also might have heard that we did issue notices to some of our management team, including all assistant principals. This action was taken for two reasons: 1) it is an education code requirement that if a certificated staff member may be reassigned to a different position, they must be noticed by March 15th; 2) since this process takes time to inform staff and to complete the paperwork, and since the budget solutions had not been approved by the Board yet, we needed to take this action in an abundance of caution. No final decisions have been made. In fact, if there is a need to reduce any of the assistant principal positions, we have a task force of principals/assistant principals who are currently developing an equity-based resource allocation formula that will be used to guide those decisions, if necessary. During this budget year, our intent with all employees – teachers, counselors, classified staff, management – is to right-size our district using the SERP and other budget solutions, and not layoffs. This approach has been supported by our Board of Trustees and we are grateful to our labor partners for working together with us on this budget solution specifically. Too often school districts rely on layoffs of staff to create savings. Our beliefs and our culture don’t believe this is the best solution and, if considered, only as a last resort. As you will find in the information being shared tonight, the SERP has created a significant amount of savings to the district that have resulted in nearly $6.5M just for this current year’s budget – a number far greater than we had anticipated because of the actual number of employees who took advantage of the SERP.
- This right-sizing has also created an increase in our overall cash flow and a decrease of over $2M per month in our payroll since December.
- And, tonight we will share we have made significant positive steps towards reducing borrowing from our internal funds. At the 1st Interim presentation in December, there was a potential balance of approximately $42M in borrowing from Fund 49. If you recall Fund 49 is our Mello Roos funds. Since January of 2019, there has been no interfund borrowing and we are on schedule to bring down this balance from the projected $42M to approximately $8M by June. Given the direction of our overall savings, we anticipate that $8M could be even lower in our final adopted budget in late June.
- As I shared at the last board meeting, addressing our fiscal distress is compared more to running long distance than running a sprint. We have been persistent in our work and in finding viable solutions that have the least impact to students and the classroom; and, we are confident by the end of this school year, we will bring forward a balanced budget to our Board of Trustees and the Sweetwater community. There are many lessons to be learned; and being an educational institution, learning matters. During difficult times, we want to demonstrate to our students, our staff, and our community that no matter the challenges, we will work collaboratively to arrive at successful solutions. In the words of Maya Angelou, “ We may encounter many defeats (in life). But we must not be defeated.” Sweetwater is moving forward together because we are stronger than the storm.
- 2018-19_Second_Interim_Financial_Presentation-1 – PDF
- K-4_2019-20_Fiscal_Stabilization_Plan – PDF
Budget Update – 03.04.2019
On Saturday, March 2, 2019, the Board of Trustees of the Sweetwater Union High School District met in a special closed-session meeting to consider reorganizations and reductions impacting management employees. The Trustees reported out that notices will be sent to 87 Management Employees.
Pursuant to California Education Code, affected management employees will be receiving a mandatory notification by March 15, 2019, that they may be released or reassigned from their position for the following school year. The Sweetwater Union High School District, in consultation with the San Diego County Office of Education, is considering these actions as a strategic and proactive avenue towards ensuring fiscal stability.
As we have recently seen across the State of California, school districts are continuing to face challenges related to school finance and budgeting. Within this context, we know that these actions may have a significant impact. It is our intent to keep reductions away from the classroom and from programs that directly impact students. On March 11, the district will present the complete fiscal recovery plan to the Board of Trustees.
We thank the entire Sweetwater Union High School District community for their support and for ensuring that we continue our focus on Putting Students First.
Informe sobre el presupuesto – 4 de marzo de 2019
El sábado 2 de marzo de 2019, los miembros de la mesa directiva del distrito Sweetwater Union High School District se reunieron en una junta extraordinaria a puerta cerrada para considerar las reestructuraciones y recortes que afectan a los empleados administrativos. Los miembros de la mesa directiva del distrito informaron que se enviarán notificaciones a 87 empleados de la administración.
Conforme al Código de Educación de California, los empleados administrativos afectados recibirán la notificación obligatoria el 15 de marzo de 2019 a más tardar, informándoles que serán liberados de su cargo o reasignados para el próximo ciclo escolar. El distrito Sweetwater Union High School District, en consulta con la Oficina de Educación del Condado de San Diego, está considerando dichas acciones como una vía estratégica y proactiva para garantizar la estabilidad fiscal.
Como hemos observado recientemente en todo el estado de California, los distritos escolares siguen enfrentando desafíos relacionados a las finanzas y al presupuesto escolar. En este contexto, sabemos que estas acciones pueden tener un impacto importante. Nuestra intención es mantener los recortes fuera del aula y de los programas que afectan directamente al alumno. El 11 de marzo, el distrito presentará el plan de recuperación fiscal completo a la Mesa Directiva del distrito.
Agradecemos a toda la comunidad del distrito Sweetwater Union High School District por su apoyo y por garantizar que sigamos con nuestro enfoque de Poner a los alumnos primero.
Budget Update – 02.27.2019
Statement From Board Of Trustees
The Trustees of the Sweetwater Union High School District understand that there is significant interest in the community, and for many frustration, confusion and anger, about our current financial situation, and what got us here.
We, as a Board, are resolved to ensuring we get to the bottom of this situation and to bring those responsible for getting us into the situation to account. Our community deserves nothing less than a true understanding of exactly what has occurred, and it is our intent to provide that understanding. However, it is also important to let the reviews occur to completion, without jumping to preliminary conclusions or denying due process.
At this time, we are participating in and fully-cooperating with multiple inquiries, audits and reviews and as a result, we are implementing steps to reform and restructure the district’s financial systems and will continue to take action as reviews are finalized. When these reviews are completed, it is our commitment to and we will exercise our responsibility to the community, as trustees, to act within our jurisdiction to hold accountable any persons responsible within the scope of our authority.
Los miembros de la mesa directiva del distrito Sweetwater Union High School District están conscientes que existe un gran interés por parte de la comunidad, y para muchos, frustración, confusión y coraje, debido a nuestra situación financiera actual y por lo que nos trajo hasta el punto en que estamos.
Nosotros, los miembros de la mesa directiva del distrito, estamos decididos a garantizar que lleguemos al fondo de esta situación y de hacer que las personas que nos metieron en esta situación se hagan responsables. Nuestra comunidad merece entender verdaderamente lo que ha ocurrido con exactitud, y nuestra intención es proporcionar esa claridad. Sin embargo, también es importante dejar que se realicen las revisiones, sin saltar a conclusiones prematuras o negar el debido proceso.
En este momento, estamos participando y cooperando plenamente con múltiples investigaciones, auditorías y revisiones, y como resultado, estamos implementando pasos para reformar y reestructurar los sistemas financieros del distrito y seguiremos tomando pasos a medida que se finalicen las revisiones. Cuando se terminen dichas revisiones, es nuestro compromiso y cumpliremos con nuestra responsabilidad hacia la comunidad como miembros de la mesa directiva del distrito, de actuar dentro de nuestra jurisdicción para responsabilizar a cualquier persona responsable dentro del alcance de nuestra autoridad.
Budget Update – 01.31.2019
- This Board and district leadership has deliberately worked for the past 3 ½ years to be transparent and inclusive. We, the Sweetwater Collective (that includes our Board of Trustees, Cabinet, management, labor partners, students, families, and community) have accomplished many positive outcomes for the district and we are proud of that.
- Ever since Sweetwater reported problems with our 2017-18 Unaudited Actuals to the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) in September, we have been in the public’s eye regarding our fiscal health/solvency. From the onset we have taken our responsibility very seriously and we acknowledge our accountability for past, current, and future actions. In order to share what we are doing to ensure a balanced budget going forward with true and accurate numbers, here is a timeline to show a visual of our journey since September.
- Our Unaudited Actuals (closing the books) for the 2017-18 school year was accepted by the Board on September 24th. When SDCOE disapproved our 2018-19 budget, that action triggered a new timeline for Sweetwater where we were required to balance our 2018-19 budget by Oct. 8, 2018.
- With a very short timeline and in collaboration with all labor partners, we did submit a balanced operating budget at our Oct. 8, 2018 Board Meeting. That, in and of itself, was an incredible accomplishment with the size of our district and budget. Staff came in during the Fall break to meet and submit budget solutions; we asked for input from staff and community in a google form on our district website; Sweetwater pulled together to address this challenge.
- During October and November, in preparation for the 1st Interim Budget Report in December, we continued to confer with stakeholder groups, negotiating agreements with our labor partners, and getting approval to move forward with an early retirement incentive as part of our budget solutions. Our belief is that we would rather reduce staffing through incentives versus layoffs.
- Dec. 10, 2018, the Annual Audit and the 1st Interim Budget reports were presented to the Board of Trustees and the public. The Audit findings included negative adjustments to the 2017-18 budget due to declining enrollment, lowered average daily attendance, and lower unduplicated student percentage revenue. Therefore, the 1st Interim Report stated a shortfall of approximately $10M to the current 2018-19 budget. Although this year’s operating budget was balanced as of the Oct. 8, 2018 Board Meeting, and based upon the information presented on Dec. 10th, the new finding put us into a negative status. Note: this $10M shortfall is an actual number and not a projection.
- The 1st Interim Budget Report also projects our budget in future years based upon the best information we had at December meeting. The projection for the 2019-20 Budget is negative $42.4M. You will hear Dr. Salkeld make a presentation tonight on the Governor’s Budget Proposal for 2019-20. In his proposal he raises the Cost of Living Adjustment and recommends a state contribution to the State Teachers Retirement System. For Sweetwater, his proposal increases revenues by $5.1M which decreases next year’s deficit to now $37.3M. To keep this in perspective, the $37.3M projection for 2019-20, is 7.7% of our total budget; and, it includes the $10M shortfall for this current year, $9M to restore the 2% Economic Uncertainty Reserves requirement and a remaining $18M deficit. Remember, those are projections based upon what was known on Dec. 10, 2018 and, now includes the Governor’s Proposal. We know we have work to do and decisions to make as we move forward to balance the 2019-20 Budget.
- Every day since we reported the problems with our 2017-18 budget to SDCOE, the Sweetwater staff has been making daily progress. The main reason we have been making progress is that we believe we generate better solutions when we include all stakeholders. What makes Sweetwater different in the state of California for organizations who are experiencing similar fiscal distress, is that we place a high value on input, collaboration and honest, transparent information sharing with our labor partners and all Sweetwater stakeholders, including students and community. We know we are unique in that respect and we attribute all progress to that partnership.
- We are committed to making progress and we continue to make adjustments and corrections in our practices and structures based upon the recommendations from the external Annual Audit, FCMAT, and School Services reports. Here is what we have done:
- The Board approved the Supplemental Early Retirement Incentive on Dec. 17th. The cost savings projected for December retirees exceeded our expectations. According to the PARS presentation in December, the original expected savings was a cumulative $1.4M; the revised expected savings is $3.3M. Any additional savings or the difference between the original and revised savings contributes positively to the current 2018-19 $10M shortfall. Any reductions to our current shortfall, also reduces next year’s deficit. SDCOE and our Fiscal Advisor recommended we extend the SERP; we agree. So, eligible employees have been notified the SERP is open until Feb. 28, 2019 – this will result in potential additional savings.
- Because we had a decline in enrollment between July 2018 and December 2018 of 273 students, we were required to make adjustments in staffing at school sites for second semester. To fully benefit from employees retiring/resigning in December, we asked school sites and district departments to analyze how we can right-size as a district. We want to thank SEA for agreeing to meet and sign a side letter that allowed some flexibility with 1/6 teaching assignments. Principals and faculty across the district collaborated on how to absorb some of the teaching sections from retirees with our current staff. We had approximately 78 (7-12) teachers who retired in December; through reassigning teacher resource periods and consolidating classes due to lower enrollment, we were able to absorb over 30 of those teachers’ assignments across our 26 school sites with current teachers. Our expectation of a worse-case scenario did not actualize. That success is a direct result of staff working together. Thank you to staff who picked up an extra teaching period or agreed to teach a different class to make this work. Without your support, this would not have been possible. We are still calculating the cost savings of this budget solution with the intent to include it in our 2ndInterim Budget Report in March.
- FCMAT, School Services, Annual Audit, and current Audit reports cited weaknesses in position control and the lack of integration of our TrueCourse finance system with HR and Payroll. TrueCourse is antiquated and has been in existence for about 20 years. That means there are practices, structures, and systems that need to be re-learned and developed. You’ll notice we have an agenda item tonight that asks the board to approve a new job description – Budget Position Control Analyst. We appreciate CSEA meeting with us to jointly discuss the new position. The intent here is to include this person as the hub for district-wide position control. In the meantime, Dr. Salkeld has established an internal Position Control Committee that includes CFO, Asst. Supt. of HR, Classified/Certificated HR Directors, Director of Finance, Director of Labor Relations, Director of Special Services. The objective of this committee is to create a comprehensive and strategic process to deliver an efficient alignment of financial resources and personnel that will also be shared with labor partners and stakeholders. As we move forward, Position Control will be a much needed process that monitors staffing by reviewing all proposals to temporarily or permanently fill a new position, refill an existing position, offer a stipend, or request hourly positions. Right now, because our HR, Payroll, and Finance systems are not integrated, this needs to be done in this manual process to ensure we have checks and balances in place.
- Dr. Salkeld and the finance team have been meeting with each school site principal/school secretary to reconcile staffing and discretionary budgets. This same process is being used with district departments. I guarantee this has been an eye-opening experience for all staff involved. I’ll also tell you that staff are open to and appreciate this opportunity to learn and improve what and how we work with budgets. We are implementing this process to establish a common understanding and common uniform practices at each school site and district department going forward.
- Our next goal is to bring a request forward to the Board to implement a new Finance System. Currently HR is using Infor Global HR. We have been listening and learning about Infor’s Finance Module for over a year. The current Finance team attended a final presentation by Infor in December and believe this is the best system for our needs and will accomplish the goal of integration, not only with HR, but also integration with PeopleSoft, the payroll system that SDCOE requires all districts in the county to use.
- In order to reach the goal of a balanced budget for 2019-20, we will continue the collaboration with our labor partners (certificated, classified, and management) with updates to our employees, students, parents, and the communities we serve. Here is the process: The Board of Trustees held a Budget Workshop on January 14, 2019, to begin developing their priorities and guide us in determining budget solutions. Their next workshop is scheduled for Feb. 4th. To help us all prioritize services in the 2019-20 school year, district leadership, in collaboration with school sites, will host a community meeting in each of the five trustee areas in late February and early March to seek input on the LCAP Goals and its alignment with the budget process. These meetings are similar to the meetings we held three years ago when the new Board and district leadership began and where staff, students, administrators, and community members attended.
- Since districts up and down the state spend the majority of their budgets on personnel, Sweetwater is no different. We will have conversations with our labor partners and seek input on their ideas before making recommendations to the Board. One area of cost savings we already know and an area that makes sense to review is looking first at district office management reductions and a reorganization that will produce a savings of approximately $2M for next year; that is around a 20-25% reduction in positions of district office management. Some of those savings come as a result of management employees taking the early retirement (these savings will reduce the current year shortfall), while other savings will be the result of a reorganization based upon retirements and the Board’s priorities that will contribute to reducing next year’s deficit.
- We welcome input from outside expertise and continue to seek any positive assistance we can get while maintaining our focus on being collaborative. My highest priority today and every day is to advocate on what’s best for the Sweetwater Union High School District – our needs, whatever it takes! The needs of our students, our staff, and our families!
- I am confident we, our Sweetwater collective, will bring equitable budget solutions to the Board for a balanced budget in 2019-20 and future years.
- We are committed to making progress and we continue to make adjustments and corrections in our practices and structures based upon the recommendations from the external Annual Audit, FCMAT, and School Services reports. Here is what we have done: