In light of financial instability and continuing changes in personnel in various Yosemite Unified School District offices, Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools, and Steve Carney, MCOE Chief Business & Administrative Services Officer, held an informational meeting Thursday, Feb. 8, to explain the impact AB1200 has on the district.
Projections show the district running out of cash in the fall of 2018. Cash insolvency occurs when the payroll cost exceeds the cash available and all options for short-term borrowing have been exhausted.
That and concerns about the district’s incapacity to move fast enough with a plan to get them to solvency were the primary reasons stated for the MCOE giving the district’s first interim budget report a negative certification.
“This is not a take over,” Carney said. “It’s not a seizure. It’s a partnership.. .We’re here to add staff, to help advise. . .We’re here to help them come up with a budget plan that moves them toward solvency.”
The YUSD board is still in charge of decisions but Massetti has stay and rescind authority over any decisions that deviate from the district getting back on track to solvency, including prior review of any collective bargaining agreements.
While the district has been deficit spending for a number of years, AB1200 does not allow a county office of education to step in until a district’s budget cannot sustain a three percent reserve for the current and two subsequent years.
Some $670,000 in labor cuts and $300,000 in operating expenditures to be made in the 2017-18 school year and an additional $170,000 in labor cuts and $300,000 in operating costs need to be made in 2018-19 were listed in the budget submitted by the district to the MCOE. However, the MCOE has not seen a specific plan from the district to reach those goals.
“We are not here to make decisions about your programs,” Carney said, explaining MCOE’s role. But it was noted later in the presentation that “programs are going to have to be downsized.”
The MCOE has concerns about the district’s ability to meet a March 15 deadline for certificated personnel layoff notices. A reduction in services needed or lack of funds trigger these notices.
Jamie Perry, the consultant and fiscal adviser brought in by Massetti, is scheduled to present her analysis and the specific dollar amount of cuts to be made at the next regular board meeting on Monday, Feb. 12, “If you want to find out how it [AB1200] really impacts YUSD, Monday night at the board meeting Jamie will be doing a presentation and it will be an update on where we are at fiscally right now and she’ll jump in a little bit more on what the county role is as it impacts some of the numbers,” Massetti said.
“When a district is certified as negative, that’s reported to the state and so when you go to borrow money, it’s much more difficult,” Carney said. The negative certification triggered invocation of AB1200.
A phone survey has been done in the community concerning support of a bond. “Regardless of the results of that study, it would be difficult to get a rate favorable enough to actually go out and borrow,” he said.
Audience questions followed the presentation.
“I read in the newspaper about our superintendent’s temporary leave of absence,” parent Bill Bunnell said. He voiced concern that the county office would be making a “static analysis of funding” and asked whether they would be taking into account the need to fund such things as honors classes and the swimming pool.
“The county will not be making the cuts,” Massetti said. “In regards to the superintendent, it’s a personnel matter. I don’t know anything about the superintendent’s status. As far as the recommendations on Monday, the fiscal adviser [Jamie Perry] will share how much should be cut or needs to be cut and then a plan from the staff [who] will be working with the board the the board is the entity that makes those decisions [cuts to be made]. We just cost them out,” Massetti said.
To accommodate the time-lines to be met in regard to staff reductions, the board will be scheduling special meetings in addition to the regularly scheduled meetings, Massetti noted.