School district faces dire financial predictions
by Robin Hug Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:04
The Windsor Unified School District is losing $2 million a year, lacks enough savings to make a
month of payroll, and could face a takeover by county officials if it is unable to repair it’s
finances according to a recent report by the Sonoma County Office of Education.
The Windsor Unified School District asked SCOE advisor Denise Calvert to analyze their budget
and present her findings at their Feb. 19 meeting during a regular budget report. The District has
until March 15 to present a financial report that proves the district is fiscally sound for the next
“As you are aware I am here this evening due to the serious financial condition of the district,”
Calvert said to the board. “Without board approval and reductions and agreed upon negotiated
reductions for the 13/14 budget, the county supervisor will consider the district to be in negative
financial status which means that the district’s financial condition is very precarious.”
The district is facing a structural deficit meaning on going expenses are more than on going
revenues, Calvert explained. In the current year the structural deficit is over $2 million and
continues to grow due to increases and operational costs including step and column raises for
teachers and health insurance costs.
“Correcting this requires permanent changes to the district’s spending practices,” she said noting
that the recent cuts the district has had to make may have been enough to correct the problem if
they were receiving the amount owed to them by the state.
If additional corrections are not made, the county superintendent will consider the district close to
bankruptcy and will appoint a fiscal advisor that would have authority over the board to make
fiscal decisions until the financial problems are corrected.
“In this fiscal year the district has had negative cash in six of the seven months, in this fiscal
year,” said Calvert. “Your monthly payroll expenses are over $3 million and your 3 percent
reserve is only $1.3 million dollars.”
The county supervisor recommends at least a 3 percent reserve for all school districts and because
the Windsor district is fairly young, they have not had the time to build up their reserve.
“We understand the difficult choices that are facing you, the magnitude of reductions that you
face is staggering, it’s 5 percent of your budget,” Calvert said. “You could cut 65 percent of all
the classified staff and you could cut your entire management team and it wouldn’t solve your
problem, this is something that will effect all staff.”By the end of the report, Calvert acknowledged that cutting or reducing staff, asking staff to carry
health insurance increases, reducing the school year or increasing class sizes are not choices any
board wants to face but that the district doesn’t have the reserves to cover those costs and that the
State of California’s fiscal crisis continues to contribute to their situation.
“The only option not available to the board is to do nothing,” Calvert said.
Boardmembers said they are frustrated by the state of the budget and will continue to look for
solutions in the coming weeks. The board will hold their next public meeting on March 5.