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SCTA Makes Destination District Proposal in Meeting with State Supt Thurmond and District

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This morning (June 6, 2019) we met with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, SCUSD School Board President Jessie Ryan and Sacramento County Office of Education Superintendent Dave Gordon.

By now we are all aware that the insolvency threat evaporated after the District was forced to acknowledge it had a huge–$16 million—mistake in failing to count at least 700 students at specialty schools. As an aside, in a letter to the District dated June 5, 2019 SCOE’s Dave Gordon buried in the letter (which you can view here) that District confirmed it made the undercounting error on April 1, 2019, a fact never made public until May 16, 2019. Mr. Gordon offers no explanation why he kept this information from the public.

With the understanding that state takeover was no longer imminent (if it ever was), we presented a proposal (which you can view here) to the District that would honor our agreement to redirect health plan savings to lower class sizes and improve services to students, while fixing the District’s budget problems. It also calls for the rescission of layoffs to both certificated and classified staff.

Our proposal would also enable the District to maintain a minimum reserve of over 5% for each year of the budget.

We will be presenting this proposal to the full school board tonight (June 6, 2019) and have asked the District to post it on its website and to email out to parents and community stakeholders as part of its SCUSD Budget Updates.

Our proposal has three components:

  1. Increased Services to Students: The proposal implements the agreed-upon goals regarding class sizes and other improved services to students effective at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.
  2. Health Plan Savings/Changes: SCTA and District agree to make health plan changes consistent with Article 13.1.1 of the collective bargaining agreement.
  3. Budget Solutions: Here we proposed specific items:
    a. Temporary Suspension of Retiree Health Insurance Overfunding. With this change, which would allow the District to redirect $8.5 million into services for students the District would be able to submit a budget with a POSTIVE CERTIFICATION and meet its 2% minimum reserve for the next three years. Our costing sheeting, with the changes highlighted, and the resulting reserve fund balance in 2021-22 can be found here.
    b. 20% Reduction in Pay for Administrators Making More Than $120,000 Per Year: We had been proposed chopping $16 million from administrators. Because the District’s budget has improved so dramatically we believe our goals can be accomplished by reducing the pay of the 66 highest paid administrators in the District. Our costing sheeting for this item, with the changes highlighted, and the resulting reserve fund balance in 2021-22 can be found here.
    c. 10% Reduction in Costs for Outside Services and Contracts: The District currently spends $27 million of its unrestricted fund budget on outside contracts. Cutting these expenses, which include for example the dollars spent on its outside labor attorneys, without impacting classrooms. Our costing sheeting for this item, with the changes highlighted, and the resulting reserve fund balance in 2021-22 can be found here.
    d. Over-costing the Expense of Step and Column: The District over costs the actual expense of step and column increases, at least for certificated staff. Our costing sheeting for this item, with the changes highlighted, and the resulting reserve fund balance in 2021-22 can be found here.

In addition to those budget cuts, we proposed several items that could actually increase revenue:

a. Implementing a Multi-tiered System of Support
b. Implementing Restorative Practices
c. Creating Regional-based Magnet Schools to encourage commuters who work in Sacramento but live outside the District to enroll their children in Sac City schools.
d. Expand Dual Immersion Schools
e. A 2020 Parcel Tax.

We also noted that there will be a statewide ballot initiative in November 2020 designed to raise an additional $11 billion for California schools that we asked the District to join us in supporting.

Finally, we noted the District did not include an additional $15 million per year ($45 million over this budget) plus an additional $4 million in one-time dollars that are expected to be included in Governor Newsom’s July budget, but was not included in the District’s 2019-20 Budget.

The meeting concluded just after we made our presentation and the District did not have an opportunity to respond, which we completely understood. We informed the group that we would be making this proposal to the full school board tonight and hoped that the board seriously consider our proposal.

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