Madera County Superintendent of Schools (MCSOS) Cecilia A. Massetti has notified the Yosemite Union School District that based on a number of reasons, including a review of financial data, she is changing the district’s 2017-18 self-certified financial First Interim Report from “Qualified” to “Negative.”
“Based on the information provided by the district, including a multi-year projection (and) budget assumptions ... the projections reflect that the district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current fiscal or subsequent two years,” Massetti stated in her four and a half page letter dated Jan. 12.
In her letter, Massetti said her office has assigned fiscal adviser Jamie Perry to analyze and improve the district’s financial condition ... and to continue until the district is able to attain a “Qualified” financial status.
The letter pointed out that the YUSD’s fiscal health is suspect and is deemed to have risk of insolvency for, in part, the following reasons:
☆ Massetti lacks confidence that the district will be able to identify and implement the necessary itemized and detailed budget reductions in time to meet statutory deadlines. To date, a plan of proposed budget cuts have not been brought to the board of trustees for discussion or consideration.
☆ Current business staff lacks the capacity to identify budget cuts, keep the budget current, and follow statutory guidelines for the layoff of staff.
☆ If adequate budget cuts are not approved by the board in time to meet the legal requirement for notification for certified and/or classified employees by March 15, it is likely the district will deplete its cash balances by October of this year.
☆ The business services department lacks capacity to complete ongoing tasks.
☆ Internal control procedures are lacking and putting the district at risk ... the district lacks capacity to do the daily work, and overall supervision is lacking.
In her letter, Massetti states she has determined the district will be unable to meet its financial obligation for the current or subsequent fiscal year based on these and other factors - and her office will take action to ensure that the district meets those obligations by:
☆ Rescinding any action that is determined to be inconsistent with the school district’s ability to meet its obligations.
☆ Assist in developing ... a financial plan that will enable the district to meet its obligations, and develop, along with the school district’s trustees, a budget for the subsequent years.
The district was notified two months ago that if Massetti determined the Interim Report was not satisfactory, it could invoke AB 1200, which would take the budget decisions away from the district and put them in the hands of a fiscal adviser.
In addition to Yosemite High School, the district includes Coarsegold and Rivergold elementary schools.
First Interim and Multiyear Projects (MYP)
Massetti also pointed out that the district’s MYP indicates a decrease in fund balance of $1.1 million in 2017-18 - deficit spending of $1.6 million in 2018-19 - and a decrease in fund balance of nearly $1.9 million in 2019-20. The 2018-19 yeas falls short of the minimum required reserve balance by $500,000 and the 2019-20 year falls In short by $2.3 million.
“This leaves little room for fiscal solvency if adequate budget cuts are not acted upon, or if unplanned emergencies occur,” wrote Massetti. “There is little room for uncertainty, or errors, if the district’s solvency is to be maintained.”
The letter notes a number of additional observations and concerns, and reminds the district that the 2017-18 Second Interim Report is due no later then March 15.
NOTE: For the complete letter from Massetti to the Yosemite Union School District Board of Trustees, visit www.sierrastar.com.
School district response
YUSD Board President Tammy Loveland said she will be meeting with the County Office of Education this week to talk in-depth with county officials.
“I will be discussing with them how we will all be working together in this new phase,” said Loveland. “ Keeping students success as our number one priority is a goal shared by all, and getting the district on solid fiscal ground is absolutely vital to our being able to do that.”
Loveland also said that moving forward, collaboration with, and support from the community is going to continue to be just as important as ever.
“We will overcome these financial struggles - Yosemite Unified will continue to be the best all-around option for students in this district,” Loveland added, “with new and exciting ideas coming from new and existing staff members. This challenge will only make us better.”
YUSD Superintendent Cecelia Greenberg said since the letter had just arrived, she has not had time to review the letter in detail, “although I have worked with Ms. Perry before in another capacity and she is highly thought of. Since I have not had the opportunity to review the letter in detail, I can say the following:
☆ We are well on our way to having the proposed cuts finalized. We cut over $200,000 in the first interim, have made numerous cuts in the second interim, and are putting the final figures to our potential plan both last week and this week. If bargaining units come to us with concessions, as one unit has suggested, we will modify as needed.
☆ We are in negotiations this week with both bargaining units.
☆ Using staffing formulas provided to us by School Services of California, we have developed staffing formulas and have projected staffing for next year accordingly.
☆ We have FPM this week and expect very positive resolutions. This includes clearing up audit findings that were 425 + days overdue from the 2015-16 year.
☆ The financial audit was extended so that we might complete an actuarial study on retirement obligations that was supposed to have been done in a prior year. That actuarial study has now been completed.
☆ As to vacant positions, many happened toward the end of 2016-17 due to promotions or relocations. We have advertised and recruited extensively. Job offers have been made. Two have been accepted and are awaiting board approval.”
“I look forward to working with Ms. Perry and fully anticipate a positive resolution,” Greenberg concluded.
Massetti said her office will go through the process with the hope of assisting the district to get out of the ‘Negative” certification.
Recall being considered
In addition to the above issues, a YUSD Recall Action Committee Meeting will be held tonight (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. at Round Table Pizza in Oakhurst.
This is a new community group, not to be confused with the Yosemite Union Teachers Association who meet in late October to gather information about a recall of district trustees. According to YTA President Gina Hansen-Sedor, the teacher’s association is not currently pursuing a recall.
According to Anita Johnson, one of the organizers of the meeting, the group planned to explain recall procedures and timelines, and review the current board members, their years on the board, their term expiration dates, their voting records and inviting and reviewing replacement candidates for a recall election.
Johnson said the community committee to recall all the trustees evolved out of frustration and research. “The current sitting board has been the trusted entity charged with governing our system for many years and protecting our fiscal interests. Unfortunately, this has not happened and now we are at a critical juncture.”
After the retirement of Joe Smith from Area 4, the remaining four trustees are President Tammy Loveland, John Reynolds, Monika Moulin and Christine Wilder.
YUSD negative certification letter (click to download PDF)
Madera County Schools Superintendent's letter to the YUSD Board of Trustees regarding it's "Negative" First Interim Report.