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Board Meeting Summary - 3/13/2024: A Window into Future Budget Issues

An Uncertain Budget Future: Will the Board Throw Caution to the Wind?

At the third budget update of the year, the $15M deficit is still slightly increasing, but the trouble is in what lies ahead for the next several years. With a massive state budget deficit, CUSD is predicting that state funding for schools will drop below a threshold so that CUSD will switch to "Basic Aid," a funding formula where we rely solely on local property taxes for revenue. We won't know if this happens until much later this year.

What this means for now is that revenue for next year and the following years is unknown and uncertain. The projections below are not based on Basic Aid because there is no way to know what that number will be. But what they do tell us is that even with the original projections, we're expecting a deficit next year before leveling off in 2025-26. But gets worse!

This budget projection doesn't include the likely raise that the Board will be giving CUTA (the teachers union) later this year, which will almost certainly be higher than the 1.9% that CUSD had previously offered CUTA in February. Why? Because unlike a normal corporate negotiation in the private sector, CUSD starts high and only goes higher, usually settling at whatever amount CUTA originally wanted. This will no doubt have an impact of adding several million dollars to the Expenditures category. But gets EVEN worse!

Once CUTA gets their raise, the other employees - including the District Office Staff responsible for negotiating "against" CUTA for their raise - get the same raise. Which means millions more in expenditures.

A fiscally responsible board for a corporation wouldn't even fathom a raise this year, given the already high salaries for our teachers and the economic uncertainty. But the majority of the CUSD Board always goes along with whatever the Superintendent asks for, never questioning if he might be biased toward asking for a raise that both he and his wife (a CUSD teacher) will both receive.

What will they do to justify a raise that will increase next year's budget deficit? No doubt they will come up with something! Thousands of dollars for their own raises are on the line!

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