News headlines about our state and local financial situations, and uncertainty about possible federal level impact, are prompting questions and concerns in our community. Our school board members and district leadership team members are responding with study, collaborative discussions, and planning for the educational needs of our students.
This work begins with an analysis of the Governor’s proposed budget for 2017-2018. Our funding is allocated through the Local Control Funding Formula and we begin the district’s budget development by projecting revenues based on the proposed state budget. We carefully project known expenses for the next year and continue to analyze any proposals as we move through the processes of developing our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and preliminary budget. We will continue to gather input from our stakeholders as we bring the LCAP and the budget up for discussion at our public Board meetings. The School Board is required to adopt the LCAP and the budget for 2017-2018 by June 30 which is before the state budget is finalized. Once we receive the final budget information from the state, we bring any necessary adjustments in our budget to the Board for consideration and approval.
School budgeting is a complex process. Fortunately, we—Board Members, leaders, staff, parents, and students—and our talented experts in business services--are engineering a fiscally responsible budget that enables us to do the important work we do for our students. I encourage you to follow the LCAP and budget development processes for next year by reading updates on our website, attending meetings at your school and following the Board’s work through public meetings, meeting agendas and minutes.
So far, we understand that the Governor’s proposed state budget for 2017-2018 is based on lower than expected state revenues. The state’s economy has slowed down and we are seeing a conservative spending plan with no new program funding. While we expect to maintain our current programs and services into next year, we are advised to assume a cost of living adjustment (increase) to a portion of our budget, not the overall budget, and to plan for increased expenses in pension and special programs. The next update on the state budget, for our planning purposes will be the Governor’s May revision. We will have a few weeks to respond in our planning before the required district budget adoption in June. We will keep you posted on any changes as we work with budget development.
Despite this budget news, we are pleased to continue two projects that are approved. Mitchell Senior Elementary modernization plans for Phase I are proceeding. We will be working on restrooms, roof restoration, fire alarm system upgrade, indoor and outdoor public address system, play fields, accessibility and other compliance issues, asphalt repair, covered walkways, shade canopy and electrical upgrade.
Peggy Heller Elementary School will be expanding to accommodate 7th and 8th graders once again beginning in school year 2018-2019. The district recently acquired property from the City of Atwater adjacent to the school campus to provide needed space for housing additional classrooms and students.
Besides these two major projects, Atwater Elementary School District is also reviewing Bellevue’s front parking lot and front entrance for repair and better accessibility. Other routine maintenance work such as asphalt repair and energy saving projects are also scheduled for other sites.
We have exciting work ahead to accomplish together. I invite you to attend the various activities at school sites this month. In addition to our academic programs, students are participating in our core value “kindness” activities, athletics, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning, and performing arts opportunities including music and theater. I look forward to seeing you around the district.
Sandra Schiber, Ed.D.