Updates to Castaic budget show changes to multi year projections

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Fewer students and rising pension costs prompted Castaic Union officials to make budget adjustments for the school district’s multi-year projections, officials said Wednesday.

The changes reflect just how significant a school’s budget is affected by enrollment data.

The district’s main source of funding is from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which is based on student attendance. This school year, LCFF accounted for 97 percent of the Castaic’s unrestricted revenues.

However, in the upcoming school years this funding, currently at $17.4 million, is expected drop by $35,000 in 2018-19 and by $800,000 in 2019-20 as the district’s Average Daily Attendance (ADA)—which determines state funding—drops from 2,094 in 2017-18 to 1,866 in 2019-20.

“Castaic USD has seen a steady 11-year trend of enrolment loss from a student enrollment high of 3,617 in 2004-05 to the current low in 2017-18 of 2,162,” the second interim budget report read. “Until this trend reverses, the district will continue to plan for reduction in LCFF revenue for the future years.”

The Castaic district is still planning for these losses even though the Gov. Jerry Brown’s January Budget Proposal included fully implementing the state’s funding formula, LCFF, ahead of schedule.

“Please keep in mind that if the Governor does fully fund LCFF he is doing that based on 2007 funding,” Castaic Governing Board President Laura Pearson said. “This helps with our deficit spending, but still leaves up 11 years behind in increases, raises and expenses. This area is being addressed heavily with CSBA fighting on our behalf. Education is the one area that has not changed to funding fully to current times.”

The other impacts to the Castaic district’s budget are the increased pension plans the state is mandating for the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).

These increased costs are being eased temporarily by one-time revenues from the state that are allowing the district to maintain a short-term, positive increase to its ending fund balance.

“One-time revenues… are masking the challenge of having a balanced budget of on-going revenues matching or exceeding ongoing expenses,” the budget report read.

The budget report also indicates that the district plans to have an ending fund balance and reserve above the state-mandated 3 percent level.

The reserves are projected to be at 23.85 percent, or $5.2 million, in 2017-18, 24.55 percent, or $5.2 million, in 2018-19 and 20.45 percent, $4.4 million, in 2019-20.

These updates to the second interim budget are expected to be reviewed by the Castaic Governing Board Thursday.

Braille Transcribing Services

Visually impaired students in the Santa Clarita Valley Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) could soon be using new braille transcribing services, if a contract with Transcribing Mariners is approved by the Castaic Board Thursday.

Currently, the Castaic district provides services to visually impaired students in all five local school districts.

Historically, these services have been provided by the Castaic district employee, but the district has not been successful in replacing the transcriber that resigned in August 2017.

In the interim, the Santa Clarita Valley SELPA has been working with the Los Angeles Office of Education to complete these transcribing services.  But, staff shortages at LACOE are preventing them from meeting the district’s demands.

Through its contract with Transcribing Mariners, the organization will provide braille worksheets to all 44 students in all grade levels served by the Santa Clarita Valley SELPA.

The cost of the $35,000 contract will be shared among the area’s five districts based on the number of students in each district served by the program.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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