Another Enrollment Undercount “Mistake”?What’s Happening with the Layoff Rescission and Surplussing?
|The budgeting errors at Sac City show no signs of letting up. |
Earlier this year, the District spent at least $51,000 to hire yet another outside consultant to do what District staff is already paid to do: provide enrollment projections.
The result? Because of faulty data provided by the District, the consultant projected a 1071 student enrollment drop in 2019-20—25 times higher than average decrease in enrollment over the last four years, which was 43.5 per year.
Once SCTA saw the projections in late January, we immediately questioned the numbers. The adminsitrators at the District and SCOE apparently did not. Click here to see Dave Gordon’s letter of February 14, 2019 were he accepts apparently without question the District’s flawed enrollment/ADA projections.
Soon after the school board voted to lay off nearly 400 certificated and classified staff based on the faulty numbers in late February and early March, and after we raised our concerns directly with FCMAT, SCOE finally got around to questioning the numbers. On April 1, 2019, the District confirmed that it made a monumental budgeting error by failing to include at least 700 students from five specialty schools (we actually believe that the undercount is higher). Dave Gordon’s June 5, 2019 letter memorializes in writing that the District confirmed the mistake by April 1, which you can view here. The relevant section is the first full paragraph on Page 3.
In addition, both the District and SCOE colluded to keep this mistake quiet and continued to mislead the public that the District was on the brink of insolvency. The magnitude of the mistake is that the District failed to account for at least $8.4 million per year in additional ongoing revenue, or over $16 million in the current 2018-19 budget. Only after the District released its Third Interim Budget on May 16, 2019, did this information come to light. Neither the District nor SCOE has offered any explanation why they kept this information from the public for as long as they did.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of an undercount scandal.
In its draft budget for 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, the District now is projecting a 400-student decrease in enrollment/ADA beginning in 2019-20. Four hundred (400) is certainly an improvement from 1071, but it is still 10 times the average decline in enrollment over the last 4 years. Yesterday, we put in writing our concerns that the District was again significantly undercounting students, which you can view here. Again, aside from SCTA, no one seems to be questioning the numbers.
Decline at West Campus, Sutter and Crocker Riverside, Really?
This decrease includes the absurd projection that to give just three examples, West Campus, Sutter Middle School and Crocker Riverside will experience decreases in enrollment/ADA beginning this year. Each of these three schools have historically had waiting lists. We raised our concerns about the District’s projection in this detailed communication with Superintendent Aguilar, which you can view here. To date we have received no response.
District Misses Surplussing Deadline,Rescinds Layoffs for AdministratorsWhile Leaving Everyone Else Hanging
The contract requires those who are going to be surplussed to receive notice by “no later than the Friday occurring in the first full week in April, insofar as they are known.” Predictably, the District missed the deadline.
In addition, a tentative date to surplus in late May failed to materialize. Shortly after we met with the District on June 3 and District representatives were unable to provide documentation which supports its projection of the 400-student decline. Since that meeting several District administrators have agreed with us privately that the numbers don’t add up.
We then asked to meet the interim CBO as a follow-up only to have a subsequent meeting cancelled at the last minute.
Since then the District has not responded to multiple requests to meet to discuss the enrollment/ADA numbers and the impact they have on staffing so that layoffs can be rescinded and surplussing can proceed.
As a result, the District has also refused to schedule a meeting to discuss surplussing, which means there is no current date for the surplus process. And the District is also refusing to rescind layoffs until surplussing happens, but won’t meet to discuss surplussing.
Finally, it’s worth noting, that the School Board used the additional revenue from its 700-student undercount as justification for its controversial proposal to immediately rescind the layoff on 9 Serna Center administrators on June 6. While the District found the money to rescind the layoffs of administrators, for about the same amount it could have restored Child Development. By its actions, the Superintendent and School Board are making it clear that “Equity, Access, and Social Justice” begins at the top, and may or may not trickle down to the rest of us.