Hart district to review updated budget

The William S. Hart Union High School District. Dan Watson/The Signal
The William S. Hart Union High School District. Dan Watson/The Signal

Updates to the William S. Hart Union High School District’s budget show that the district is still experiencing declining enrollment and deficit spending this year.

The budget changes are expected to be reviewed by the district’s Governing Board during its meeting Wednesday.

“We are still in a situation where we’re deficit spending, which we have been for many years,” board President Steven Sturgeon said. “We’re at the mercy in terms of what the governor wants… we won’t know if that changes until we hear the May Revise Budget Report from the governor.”

The report indicates that the district is experiencing declining enrollment, as it has for the past seven years.

However, during the current school year the district experience a slight, one-time increase in average daily attendance because of the closure of the Einstein Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences charter school.

Currently 22,659 students are enrolled in the Hart district, resulting in an average daily attendance of 21,711. In four years, in 2021-22, the enrollment is projected to drop to 22,352 students and ADA is expected to drop to 21,408.

These changes could impact the district’s state funding, which is determined by student attendance and enrollment.

“It is important to note that in order to maintain the district’s positive certification, a plan for reductions in expenditures is being developed for the 2018-19 fiscal year and beyond,” the budget report read.

Multiyear planning from the district indicate that the district will experience increased costs from employee benefit obligations, increases in the state employee retirement contributions and from the opening of Castaic High School in 2019.

“The operating costs have been planned for, they’ve been putting away money for years,” Sturgeon said of the costs for opening Castaic High School. “Every year they put money in a reserve account to take care of the opening.”

These costs include an ongoing principal salary of about $155,000, the ongoing cost of school staff of about $2.8 million and one-time soft costs and technology costs of about $3.75 million.

To offset these costs, the district is looking to attract students from across the Santa Clarita Valley to attend the new comprehensive high school.

“Our bigger focus is capturing students’ attention to the campus, there’s a couple items including our CTE program which is going to be unique… We’re looking at some joint efforts with COC in terms of creating workforce pathways as well as co-curriculars,” Sturgeon said. “We will be inviting students from all across the district to attend if they want to participate in those pathways… Those costs will be offset by how many students are there.”

The district also expects to receive new students at Castaic when developments like North Lake Hills open to new homeowners.

Additional Agenda Items:

  • Hear a school site report from Sequoia School Principal Brandi Davis
  • Award prime contractor bids totaling $3,141,649 for the Hart High School Infrastructure Phase 2A
  • Award prime contractor bids totaling $4,504,729 for the Sierra Vista Junior High School Classroom Addition Project
  • Approve of Fee Amendment No. 2 totaling $19,500 to the Flewelling & Moody contract for architectural services for the Hart High School Two-Story Modular Classroom Building, Addition of Two Tennis Courts and Related Sitework
  • Approve of proposal for Division of the State Architect Inspection Services totaling $84,480 from Knowland Construction Services for the Sierra Vista Junior High School Classroom Addition Project
  • Conduct second reading and approve of board policy: Student Wellness

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