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This Fall a Windfall: Sacramento City Unified School District Reports a Surplus of $23 Million Dollars

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  • The 2019-20 school year finished with huge $23 million surplus after originally projecting a $12.3 million deficit, a turnaround of $35.5 million
  • This marks the eighth consecutive year of grossly inaccurate budget projections by SCUSD administrators
  • Reserve fund hits highest mark ever at $93 million

SACRAMENTO — The Chief Business Officer of the Sacramento City Unified School District, Rose Ramos, will report to the district’s board of education today that the Sac City schools finished the 2019-20 school year with a large surplus of cash and record reserves. Only last month, SCUSD leaders were predicting that the district, which educates 40,000 students in California’s capital city, would run a deficit, be out of cash in February 2021 and face state takeover next year.

Contrary to the bleak forecasts presented to the public in August, the “2019-20 Year End Financial Unaudited Actuals” report documents that SCUSD ended the 2019-20 school year with a surplus of $23,113,422.98.  In July 2019, the district projected it would end the 2019-20 school year with a $12,344,416.83 deficit — a $35.5 million turnaround from the district’s dire predictions.  Just as significantly, SCUSD now has $93,048,610.81 in its reserve fund, $82 million more than the minimum reserve fund required by the state. 

“Parents, teachers and business leaders have been bombarded with ‘the sky is falling in’ messages coming out of the budget office that are parroted by both the school board and the Sacramento County Office of Education year after year,” said Sacramento City Teachers Association President David Fisher, who also is a SCUSD parent. “Every year SCUSD goes through this exercise of telling the public that it is running out of cash and better cut programs, only to end with ‘never mind, we actually ran a surplus.’”

It is the eighth year in a row that the district financial projections have been wildly inaccurate, falsely painting a picture of SCUSD on the brink of fiscal insolvency. Among other accounting problems, a budget officer previously hired by the school board based on recommendations from Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, was forced to step down in 2019 when it was revealed SCUSD forgot to count five of the district’s schools, a $25-million mistake.

“With a surplus of $23 million from last school year and a reserve fund that now exceeds $93 million, it’s time to focus on the positive and determine how we can best redirect those resources back to the classroom,” said Fisher. “Especially now, with the added educational challenges that the pandemic brings, we need to employ more school nurses, lower class sizes, improve special education services and provide help so that our teachers can tailor virtual learning to the needs of each student.”

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