San Bruno Elementary District in Financial Trouble

San Bruno District in financial difficulties. Special Ed costs may be one of the main reasons.

This morning’s San Mateo Daily Journal has an article about the County stepping in to help  the San Bruno elementary district with its finances.

Here is an excerpt with my italicizing of an important point in the text:

To address the financial concerns, school officials developed last year a budget management plan designed to improve the district’s financial footing by cutting expenditures and taking in more money than initially anticipated from the state. 

But following the examination of the district’s books, county officials found many of those proposed improvements have yet to be put into place, according to the report.

“It is clear the district has not yet implemented the spending reductions and/or revenue augmentation incorporated in the budget action plan by the governing board,” according to the letter.

More spending on special education programming, hiking contributions to staff benefit funds and purchasing new textbooks as well as other instructional materials are among some of the increased expenditures identified in the letter.

According to the county report, the district’s general fund is projected to have $501,282 at the end of the year, and fall into a $935,107 deficit next year, which is expected to grow to $2.69 million the following year. The district is expected to receive about $17 million in revenue with expenditures floating at about $19 million from the current fiscal year over the subsequent two.”

A couple of comments by San Bruno residents following the article are worth reading also, especially in regards to special education costs:

Chris Kiely:  Maybe our intrepid reporter (Austin Walsh) should ask the folks at the County Office of Education how the SBPSD budget would look if we weren’t paying so much to the County Office of Education for Special Education services? Or perhaps the County can explain to everyone the current Special Education funding model in San Mateo? How it was changed roughly a dozen years ago? How that change was championed by current Superintendent Anne Campbell? How that change decimated Districts like San Bruno, driving our Special Ed costs through the roof? Maybe ask the County whether San Bruno would even have a deficit problem if not for those misguided reforms aimed at pacifying the richest districts in the County?

The SMFCSD has both a good credit rating and financial reserves as I have been told by more than one person who should be in a position to know.

In my last article, however, I was a bit surprised to discover that support staff is almost as numerous as teaching staff in SMFCSD, and I hope to get more details on this when I talk to Dr. Rosas tomorrow.

It is very possible that special education makes up a significant fraction of the support staff.  It is also my understanding that school districts are being required by the state to cover their rising pension costs, so there are several pitfalls to consider as part of resolving the cost-of-living issues here.


Author: David Kristofferson

Retired Ph.D. scientist, teacher (after retiring from industry, taught in private and public high schools and then worked a decade in my own private tutoring business), bioinformatician (managed both the NIH-funded GenBank National Nucleic Acid Sequence Databank and the BIONET National Computer Resource for Molecular Biology), IT director at Eos and Raven Biotechnologies, software product manager, AAAS Fellow, avid cyclist, and backpacker!

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