Castaic district swears in members, certifies first interim financial report

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Castaic Union School District administered the oath of office to three returning members of the board of trustees and also certified its first interim financial report Monday.  

Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, swore in incumbents Laura Pearson, Mayreen Burke and John Richard onto the Castaic district’s board of trustees after they were reelected by voters. Board members elected Richard as the new presiding officer for the incoming year, Janene Maxon as the clerk and Fred Malcomb as the presiding officer in the absence of Richard and Maxon.  

“I want to say thank you to Laura for a phenomenal work,” Richard said in regards to Pearson’s time as the presiding officer for 2022. “She works incredibly hard.” 

In return, Pearson said she’d be ready to work with Richard in achieving great things for the district. After a brief moment, the board of trustees organized themselves and appointed members to various committees. 

Shilo Gorospe from Edie Bailly, a consulting firm that provides various financial services to school districts, gave a presentation to the board of trustees regarding the district’s finances. According to Gorospe, a compliance report on federal programs was completed, an audit was complete, too, and more.  

According to Gorospe, overall, the district had clean reports. However, of the district’s total expenditures, they did not meet the required threshold of 60% of funds being spent on teacher salaries. 

Gorospe reassured the governing board that this is an issue many other school districts are facing due to one-time monies coming in from the federal or state level to address COVID-19. As Gorospe explained, these COVID-19 funds were for the purpose of purchasing new HVAC, personal protective equipment, pay for salaries of custodians and much more that was related to COVID-19 safety measures.  

Gorospe said that in a year or two, this particular issue will readjust itself as those one-time COVID-19 monies are spent by school districts. 

“It tends to be a bigger issue in smaller districts, where, you know, don’t have as much of a pot that you’re working with,” Gorospe said.  

Julia Phippen, director of business and fiscal services, and Irene Boden, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, discussed the district’s first interim financial report.  

Phippen broke down the district’s budget and explained how much came from the Local Control Funding Formula, state and federal. According to their presentation, the district now has more revenue coming in to the district than expenditures.  

Boden said that after the district approved its adopted budget in June, they found additional new revenue. Phippen reviewed the district’s average daily attendance, which is important as the state funds school districts based on that calculation.  

As a result of the pandemic, school districts across California were concerned how ADA would affect funding. It was no different in the Santa Clarita Valley.  

There had been, and even now, has been a significant increase in students missing school. Though as school returned to in-person learning, districts are working to address and decrease the number of students missing school days.  

Phippen presented the board of trustees with a multi-year review of ADA.  

“We still have a loss, but it is less of a loss than last year,” Phippen said. “Then next year, you’ll see that loss is even smaller.”  

According to Phippen and Boden, the Castaic district’s ADA is slowly increasing, and in the next few years they are hopeful to see an increase in enrollment as a result of nearby housing developments. 

The board of trustees asked the staff a few questions to clarify some information they received and there was no further discussion. The board voted to certify the first interim financial report. 

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