The Coast News Group
Oceanside Unified is projecting budget cuts by next year if enrollment, attendance continues to decline
Oceanside Unified is projecting budget cuts by next year if enrollment, attendance continues to decline. Courtesy photo
CitiesNewsOceansideOceanside Featured

Oceanside Unified projects budget cuts due to enrollment, attendance

OCEANSIDE — The city’s school district may have to cut more than $8 million from its budget by 2023-24 if both enrollment and average daily attendance continue to decline.

Earlier this month, the Oceanside Unified School District board reviewed its second interim budget report, which identifies the district’s current revenue and expenditures.

The district had previously projected the average daily attendance (ADA) would be about 90.3%, but actual numbers are showing attendance has dropped to 87.86%, which will drastically decrease the amount of state funding the district will receive by about $20 million.

The district’s end balance is expected to be $31.4 million this year, but that will drop to about $12.1 million the following year. Though the district is still set to receive $9.6 million in COLA revenue (based on cost-of-living increases), the drop in revenue from the ADA decline plus other expenditures are set to decrease next year’s balance.

If these declines continue, the school district expects a $1.3 million deficit by the end of 2023. The district would then need to make more than $8 million in budget cuts to prevent that deficit and match its reserve funds.

The drop in revenue is largely due to a decrease in daily attendance.

“Our concern is we don’t have as many children coming to school in person,” said Andrea Norman, associate superintendent of business services. “Then with challenges of independent study and COVID quarantines, master agreements aren’t being signed and homework isn’t being turned in, and those are two really important components to receive funding.”

A drop in enrollment also plays a role, though the district did not lose as many students this year as previously projected. Rather than losing an expected 410 students, the district only lost 110 students.

“What’s hitting us is we’re at 87% ADA when we’re usually up at 94%,” Norman said at the March 8 board meeting. “So even though our enrollment hasn’t dropped as significantly, our kids haven’t been coming.”

Though the numbers could turn around in the following years, the district has used conservative projections to be safe.

Expenditure adjustments could include reducing staff to align with declining enrollment, reductions in unrestricted funds including supplies and other services, and using one-time COVID funds.

“You don’t always want to use one-time money, but if it does allow us to make adjustments ongoing it would be significant,” Norman said. “The state is allowing this because they know districts are up against the ADA cliff.”

Norman noted the district would still need to make adjustments down the road as the one-time funds would only buy the district some time to do so.

“We need to put a real plan in action,” Norman said.

Board Vice President Raquel Alvarez and Trustee Eric Joyce asked for a workshop sometime in the following six months to discuss a potential plan.

“I know those third-year assumptions are extremely conservative,” said Board President Stacy Begin. “They have yet to come to fruition so hopefully, we will not have to make those cuts.”

Superintendent Julie Vitale cautioned that although the numbers are conservative, they are based on actual trends that have happened to the district in the past.

1 comment

tmaddison March 24, 2022 at 7:39 am

Unsaid in this is the fact that Oceanside Unified has been on the state’s watchlist for financial insolvency since March 2017 – one of the longest-term financially mismanaged school districts in the state. Their budget has been one step away from allowing the state to take over the district almost continuously since then.

The fact they’ve had to cut significantly from the education of our kids to stave off bankruptcy has not prevented them from lining their own pockets, however.

In April 2018 they gave themselves bonus raises – above and beyond the normal annual increases built into their salary schedules, that cost the district $5,837,633.

In December 2019 they gave themselves another round of bonus raises. That cost the district $10,640,990.

In February 2020 yet another round of bonus raises. Cost? $3,920.318.

And in October 2021, flush with Covid cash (which we all thought was to be spent on the education of our kids), another bonus raise. This one cost $22,732,696. Including $15,000/year for a superintendent “managing” the financial mess, and $9,000/year for the union president (of course…)

Total spent on themselves since first being identified by the state as potentially bankrupt? $43,131,637.

In 2020, the median total compensation of an OUSD administrator was $169,498

Median for a full-time teacher was $124,688.

Average compensation increase rate over time has been over twice inflation.

This is real data, taken from OUSD’s own payroll records.

And yet now we see them discussing cutting $8 million – from the education of our kids. Purportedly because of “enrollment declines”.

Enrollment IS declining, that is true, but perhaps spending $43 million on themselves might also have something to do with it?

Why is this never mentioned in media reporting on school district financial mismanagement?

Leave a Comment