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SCUSD’s Structural Surplus Continues: Ends 2020-21 with $19 Million Surplus

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For the ninth time in ten years, SCUSD ended 2020-21 with a surplus.  A surplus of $19 million–after the Mr. Aguilar and the third CBO during his tenure along with a fiscal advisor from SCOE–submitted an 2020-21 original budget that projected a $75 million deficit.  Aguilar and his team were off by $95 million in their projections for 2020-21.

The repeated surplus (which includes every year since SCUSD’s budget was rejected for the first time and Superintendent Aguilar and SCOE’s Dave Gordon stated SCUSD was only months from going insolvent) can accurately be described as a “structural surplus.”

The District’s surpluses have been consistent. Unfortunately, so too have been the wildly inaccurate financial projections of the Aguilar administration since he became Superintendent in 2017. To repeat, Aguilar’s original 2020-21 budget projected a DEFICIT of $75 million, meaning the District’s projections were off by an outstanding $95 million.

The result of such abysmal financial management not only continues to damage the already low credibility of Aguilar and his finance team, but more importantly it means that students are deprived resources that should be spent in classrooms.

This spring, for example, Aguilar again issued unnecessary layoff notices to over one hundred SCUSD certificated and classified staff, exacerbating the staffing crisis that continues to plague the District. Currently the District has 143.8 vacant certificated positions.

Today, the District’s unrestricted reserve funds sits at $103 million, the highest in SCUSD history. This does not include the $313 million the District received in additional COVID funding from the state and federal government.

Since the Local Control Funding Formula was introduced in California in 2012-13, the SCUSD has ended nine out ten years with A SURPLUS.

Below is the end of the year performance of the District, according to the official reports SCUSD filed with the State of California. Each of these documents can be found on the District’s website, under the section related to Budgets and Financial Reports. We have scanned the relevant page from each year’s report, with the unrestricted fund surplus circled. The exception is 2017-18, the single year in the last ten that SCUSD actually ended the year with an unrestricted fund operating deficit.

In 2012-13 it was $185 thousand surplus. Click here.

In 2013-14 it was $17 million surplus. Click here.

In 2014-15 it was $9.9 million surplus. Click here.

In 2015-16 it was $28 million surplus. Click here.

In 2016-17 it was $4.7 million surplus. Click here.

In 2017-18, the District actually had a deficit, but only because Superintendent Aguilar cashed out $6 million in vacation pay for top administrators, added administrator positions that were unbudgeted, and other unbudgeted expenses. The relevant page can be found here.

In 2018-19, when Superintendent Aguilar claimed the District was months away from fiscal insolvency the District ran a surplus of $857 thousand. Click here.

In 2019-20, again another surplus, this time, $23.5 million. Click here.

Having a surplus in nine of the last ten years, with a net increase of $83.3 million to the SCUSD unrestricted reserve fund (an average of $8.33 million per year) contradicts the claim that SCUSD has a “structural deficit.” To have a structural deficit, an entity must have an ongoing, recurrent deficit. SCUSD has not.

In fact, SCUSD has a structural surplus.

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