ESCONDIDO — Local school districts will soon feel a pinch from Sacramento after state lawmakers recently agreed to some hefty cuts to education to address a more than $30 billion deficit.
During its budget adoption process last month, Escondido Union High School District board members and staff hoped for the best when it came to proposed cuts.
“Hopefully, we land somewhere in the middle,” said Amanda Phillips, EUHSD’s assistant superintendent of business services, during a June 13 budget discussion.
Gov. Gavin Newsom had initially proposed a 50% reduction in the Arts, Music, Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant and a 30% reduction in Learning Recovery Block Grants.
The state Assembly and Senate each proposed smaller cuts to these programs, and eventually, everyone met in the middle for a $200 million decrease in Arts, Music, Instructional Materials funding and a $1.6 billion decrease in Learning Recovery funds, leaving schools $6.3 billion for pandemic-era learning loss.
Staff may return to the board at a later date to adjust its budget following these changes to state funding.
The state also set an 8.22% cost-of-living adjustment for California schools which the governor intends to fund fully.
Another ongoing impact to the district besides rising costs of living is a decline in enrollment, something that many school districts are experiencing across the state. So far, California public schools have experienced an 8.6% decrease in enrollment since the 2015-2016 school year.
“That’s a significant number,” Phillips said.
EUHSD has lost 830 students since the 2015-2016 school year, with a yearly average of about 150 students.
Ultimately the district is still in good financial standing, as the board approved an anticipated $4.9 million surplus for the upcoming 2023-2024 year on June 20, which will increase the combined unrestricted and restricted fund balance to $51.9 million.
During his interview with the board on July 6, newly appointed Area 5 Trustee David Vincent said he was impressed by how the district has managed its money.
“The financial conservatism of this board has been phenomenal,” Vincent said.
At the Escondido Union School District, which oversees the city’s elementary and middle schools, the district expects to close the current fiscal year with a $29.4 million surplus in combined restricted and unrestricted funds, leaving an ending reserve balance of $78.3 million.
As for next year, however, the district expects expenditures to outpace revenues by about $5.4 million, leaving an ending reserve balance of approximately $78.3 million.