Castaic school district to discuss finances, transportation 

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal

Finances and transportation are two of the main topics set to be discussed at Thursday’s regular governing board meeting for the Castaic Union School District.  

The board is expected to approve the district’s second interim financial report as well as an updated transportation services plan for the next two school years. Also on the agenda are three items related to a cybersecurity incident that took place at the beginning of February. 

A demographics report prepared by Davis Demographics is also set to be discussed on Thursday. 

Financial report 

As required by state law, every school district must prepare a report twice a year that shows that the district is able to support all of its planned expenditures for the current school year and the subsequent one. 

The Castaic district is expected to certify its second interim financial report on Thursday, with documents provided with the agenda showing that the district is set to have at least double the board-required 5% reserve over the next two and a half years. The state requires at least 3% of the total expenditures to be accounted for in a reserve fund, though the Castaic district’s policy is 5%. 

The document shows that the district had just under $5.3 million in its reserve fund at the end of the 2022-23 school year, followed by projections of $3.2 million at the end of this school year, $3 million at the end of the next school year and $3.9 million at the end of the 2025-26 school year. 

This comes despite a projected steep drop in state funding due to a decrease in the cost-of-living adjustment that is provided by the state. The latest projection by the governor’s office is a 0.76% COLA for the next school year after it was at 8.22% this year and 13.26% last year. It is projected to rise again in 2025-26 to 2.73%. 

District staff is recommending that the board certify the report. 

Transportation plan 

A special meeting was held last month in which governing board members learned that changes will have to be made to the district’s transportation plan in order to maintain the reserve fund. 

Board members were given three options to provide transportation for students, with the current plan of having it available for all students with the current contractor not feasible for future years, according to Irene Boden, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services for the district. 

The plan to be presented on Thursday would have the district “strive to offer bus transportation for grades TK-8 to and from school to all student groups” for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years. Students would be able to apply for seats on a bus route, and those who apply after routes are full would be placed on a waiting list. Unduplicated students — those who are either low-income, English learners or foster youth — would be given priority. 

The plan calls for the district to spend just under $770,000 for transportation services, though 60% of that, or $461,000, would be reimbursed. 

Cybersecurity incident 

After the district was hit with a cybersecurity attack early in February, the district is seeking to have emergency information technology expenses approved as well as a couple of contracts that would see the district’s network receive security upgrades. 

The emergency expenses, of which $40,000 is to be earmarked, are meant to be set aside during an evaluation of the district’s network should further work be needed. 

A contract is set to be voted on by the board that would have the company “work toward the detection, diagnosis, and resolution of real or potential network problems before and after they occur.” Another contract not to exceed $9,000 is also set to be voted on that would update networking systems within the district. 

Demographics report 

Part of the discussion of the second interim financial report is a look at the district’s future student population. That report, prepared by Davis Demographics, is set to be discussed on Thursday as well. 

The report shows that the district should prepare for moderate growth in the coming years before a slew of housing projects in the area could help the student population grow “exponentially” starting in the 2027-28 school year. 

Thursday’s governing board meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Castaic school district’s administrative office, located at 28131 Livingston Ave. 

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