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Rancho Cordova Independent

Budget Update: Board Approves Ongoing Reductions to Provide Solutions

Dec 12, 2019 12:00AM ● By Folsom Cordova Unified School District

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Folsom Cordova Board of Education on Nov. 21 approved a package of budget reductions proposed to help alleviate the District’s budget challenges. The measures were designed to avoid potential layoffs while minimizing impacts to classrooms and student learning.

The Board voted 3-2 to approve $4.9 million in ongoing reductions, as well as another $1.4 million in one-time dollars, through a series of measures reached collaboratively with the District’s employee bargaining units. The reductions identified were the culmination of months of work with school site leadership, employee union leaders, and others to review and evaluate new ways to design programs and services while maintaining high-quality educational opportunities for students.

More reductions must be determined: The District will still need to identify an additional $2.5 million in cuts by its next budget report to the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) by March 2020. 

Note: Potential staffing reductions adopted Nov. 21 are likely to be absorbed through attrition. 

Some of the approved, ongoing reductions include: 

Staffing reductions at the Education Services Center ($250,000): The District began eliminating vacant administrator positions in 2018-19 and will continue to evaluate opportunities to restructure operations. The reductions approved include the elimination of one director and two classified positions. 

Reduction of teacher prep periods at Mills and Mitchell middle schools ($828,793): This move will standardize middle school schedules across the District and will result in a surplus of 5.7 teachers at Mitchell and 4.5 teachers at Mills, likely to be absorbed through attrition. The District is working with staff at both schools to design new school-day schedules that support and sustain exceptional educational offerings, such as International Baccalaureate.  

Standardizing Kindergarten schedules ($190,000): This measure will move all kindergarten to the “AM/PM” model currently used by six school sites and result in surplus of 1.9 physical education specialists, likely to be absorbed through attrition. 

Redirection of Folsom Lake High School students to existing Alternative Education ($407,000): Under this plan, students would be provided the opportunity to obtain credits through a hybrid model that includes a small learning environment in another location that best meets their needs. Students will also have the chance to enroll in electives and other courses at Folsom High School. The Independent Living Skills (ILS) program for 18-22-year-olds with special needs will remain at the Folsom Lake High campus for the 2020-21 school year while alternatives are explored. Three certificated, two classified employees, and one administrator will be impacted by the move, with the potential to absorb possible reductions through attrition.  

Why do cuts need to be made? School districts across the state are experiencing fiscal challenges due to rising employee and operating costs that are outpacing revenues. The Board has held five public study sessions in the last year to explore ideas for solutions to Folsom Cordova’s budget shortfall. 

In the 2020-21 school year, the District projects an estimated $3.5 million budget shortfall, and an additional $5.5 million the following year. If long-term, ongoing cuts are not identified, SCOE may reject the District’s budget, prompting deeper cuts.  

Have any cuts been made previously? As part of the first phase of budget reductions this year, the District has taken several actions, including reducing travel and conference expenses, saving money through early retirements, eliminating vacant teaching positions that did not have class rosters (such as intervention teachers in Folsom), declining to backfill some clerical positions, and eliminating some administration positions by collapsing vacant positions. 

What’s next: 
The District is working with its classified employee bargaining unit, CSEA, to evaluate an early retirement incentive that could reduce staffing across the District and avoid layoffs by not backfilling vacancies. The teachers union, Folsom Cordova Education Association, accepted a similar early retirement program last year to reduce teaching staff. 

The District will continue to work with its school communities to identify and implement further reductions for the 2021-22 school year.