Castaic district looks at projections

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Summer is here, meaning kids are off enjoying vacation and school districts across the Santa Clarita Valley are already hard at work attempting to sort out their budgets for the upcoming school year.

Castaic Union officials were the first district to meet to discuss its 2018-19 budget proposal during Thursday’s meeting of the governing board.

“The June budget adoption is primarily based on estimates and assumptions versus actual data,” according to Thursday’s agenda resolution, meaning State revenues, program changes and state retirement costs are projections based on information provided in the May Revise.

Although the June budget adoption is considered a placeholder, officials noted it is important because it provides a general overview as to the fiscal health of the district.

During the meeting on Thursday, officials discussed the multiple crises currently facing the district in regards to its 2018-19 budget.

“In general, the June budget for Castaic Union School District reflects the challenges of declining enrollment and increased liability related to (employee pensions),” the budget reads. Despite the fact, Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal included fully implementing the LCFF, or state’s funding formula, ahead of schedule, officials

“We have chosen to project conservatively,” officials said, since we aren’t sure how much or what form the one-time money will come in..

Castaic has seen a steady 13-year trend of enrollment loss from a student enrollment high of 3,617 in 2004-05 to the current low in 2017-18 of 2,147, according to the officials. The district is projected to continue declining enrollment through 2020-2021, and when coupled with rising pension costs, the district might be forced to make staffing reductions in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.

“Until this trend reverses,” the budget report read, “the district will continue to plan for reduction in LCFF revenue for the future years.”

Officials added at the meeting that nothing is finalized until the budget is officially approved at its next meeting June 21.

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