School’s out, but Mammoth Unified School District has been busy during summer vacation, passing its own $11.8 million operating budget for the 2011-2012 school year on June 23, including projections for the next three fiscal years, as mandated by the state.
According to Finance Director Jim Maxey, patched in this year’s budget is a $770,000 deficit that had been left last year when reserves were tapped.
A mix of reductions and savings, including $50,000 from no summer school, $70,000 in insurance policy savings, $143,000 in furlough days and $240,000 in unfilled teacher positions, netted enough savings to wipe out the deficit and put the reserve $19,700 in the black. Maxey’s budget also meets the 3% reserve minimum required by the district for the next three fiscal years.
What is in question, however, is what will happen in the future if voters shoot down the $59 Parcel Tax renewal in November. Maxey used the $650,000 in his 2011-2012 budget, the last year he knows he’ll have it available. Factoring it out going forward could mean the district would just about break even for 2012-13 and likely finish in the red in 2013-2014.
Maxey also suggested the district keep its eye on SB85, which is currently making its way through the legislature in Sacramento. If it passes and is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, one of the bill’s provisions calls for revenue limit districts to forward to the state any excess property taxes, which could net an extra $40 million for California’s coffers.
Mono County isn’t a revenue limit district, and wouldn’t be directly affected by SB85 itself; however, Maxey’s concern is one of precedent. He fears SB85 might result in Basic Aid districts becoming the next targets. Maxey indicated that move could be attractive to desperate legislators, expanding the pool of potential revenue into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
MUSD has “aspirations”
MUSD Superintendent Rich Boccia also debuted a draft document, “Strategic Aspirations,” a more in depth mission statement of sorts, designed to help the district better define goals and priorities for the next 3-5 years. “It’s not clear who we are, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” Boccia explained. “We want people to come here because we have great schools.” The draft, written by Board member Gloria Vasquez and Dan Dawson, is broken down into four sections: Vision, Mission, Strategies and Tactics, though those last two may be merged into a single section later on.
Described as an “umbrella” document, according to Boccia the district’s priorities “will either fall within or grow out of this.” Critiquing of the document was kept to a minimum; the only major point made was by Board Chair Jack Farrell, who questioned the use of the word “exceed” when it came to the strategy that “All students by Grade 5 will ‘exceed’ the standards of reading, writing and math, and have access to world language learning, if it is their desire.” Farrell said he thought the goal too “lofty,” suggesting that it means requiring all Grade 5 students to be “advanced.”
Vasquez said the document has been “a long time coming, but it’s good to have something to start with.” The Board and staff opted to further discussion until a public study session currently being scheduled for September.
The Board renewed Superintendent Rich Boccia’s contract for another year, essentially resetting his three-year agreement with MUSD. In the future, any “Satisfactory” or better performance evaluation will automatically trigger a one-year extension.
Facilities will be a topic for the public to weigh in on later this summer. Boccia said the district’s site survey has been completed, and a public study session to review the findings and come up with improvement ideas and other suggestions is planned for Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. in the MHS Library.
Any substantial talk of money will be tabled until after the November election, during which Boccia hopes to have passed the $59 parcel tax. “We’ll celebrate that during the holidays,” he quipped, optimistically, “and in the meantime attach preliminary numbers and put it on the shelf until Jan. 12.”
Boccia also recognized Jim Maxey, who will soon retire. “I’ve been through a number of supervisors and it’s all been very interesting,” Maxey said. The Superintendent praised Maxey’s work and thanked him for his friendship. “There’s been lots of learning and Jim helped me immeasurably in making the transition,” Boccia remarked.
The Board is evaluating candidates for Maxey’s position and expected to announce a decision in the next week or so.
Boccia also reported that a full-time music teacher position is part of the coming school year budget.