Antioch School Board approves deficit spending as enrollment continues decline

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board was hit with a two-fold challenge when approving the budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17. Revenue is down because enrollment continues to decrease in the district. But, at the same time there have been increases in district staff retirement costs.

The presentation, by Interim Chief Business Officer Chris Learned, began with him saying “your enrollment is declining” and ”your deficit spending is continuing to be a problem.” That was followed by Learned stating, “It’s starting to be scary.”

Enrollment in the district has decreased since the 2004-05 school year by 4,285 students, for a total of 24.15%. It decreased by 485 students between Fiscal Years 2014-15 and 2015-16 and projected to decrease another 434 students for this new school year.

Revenue to the district increased, this year, by $6.4 million in Local Control Funding Formula funding and $100,000 from the federal government. However, revenue from the state decreased by $7.2 million and other revenue is down by $1.8 million. That created a net decrease of $2.46 million in annual revenue.

The costs for CALSTRS, which is the state retirement plan for teachers, and for CALPERS, the retirement plan for all other district personnel, increased.

“The cumulative effect is an $11.2 million hit to the district,” Learned said.

The district will experience deficit spending of $1.2 million, this year, $2.1 million next year, and $2.4 million in Fiscal Year 2018-19.

The district is required to have 3% in reserves, which “doesn’t even cover one payroll for the district,” he shared. “We want to keep reserves at 7%, preferably 10%.”

The district currently has $15.3 million in reserves or 8.1% of the total $190 million budget.

Learned said he’s concerned that “one-time money is being used for ongoing expenses.”

Trustee Debra Vinson spoke, first.

“Our desire is to protect the district and remain in the black,” she said. “I’m very impressed with your management team, here” adding because it’s “conservative.”

Trustee Walter Ruehlig asked “is it too early to project if there’s going to be layoffs?”

Learned responded, “It’s too early.”

Trustee Fernando Navarro asked “why are we dipping into the budget for books and supplies?”

“We’re doing a big text book purchase,” Learned said. “Budgeted this year. Purchase next year.”

Navarro later clarified that his question was to ensure that the funds for books and supplies were not being for use any other purpose, “and not balancing the budget on the backs of the students.”

The board members voted unanimously to adopt the budget totaling $190,423,184.15.

7 Comments to “Antioch School Board approves deficit spending as enrollment continues decline”

  1. Julio says:

    I see there is nothing new at the school district. Running as usual. Typical blundering we have known for years.

    Election year folks and things will continue. Pay attention!

  2. Reginald Jamal Brown says:

    Can AUSD be more incompetent? WTF is wrong with these people? One of the worst school districts in CCC that knows no end to fiscal irresponsibility.

  3. This article is very damning of the deficit spending. As a resident, father and a recently selected Board member, I believe in “the buck stops here” even if this has been going on for years before. I’m on the board now. so it’s on my plate now.
    This article also begs the question of more transparency so that anyone can go back to the record and actually see the transcript.
    Case in point. My comment on “why are we dipping into the books and materials fund” has a larger context.

    That we are crisis funding unfunded liabilities. My concern was that the money is not reaching the students and the graphs presented that night illustrated that very point.

    We are not acting but reacting …from crisis to crisis. We must courageously shore up spending and get back to basics.

    I have a consistent voting record of hitting the brakes on many of these short sighted actions.

    (I have a synopsis on my Facebook page)

  4. Julio says:

    Reacting crisis to crisis is all the school board and city fathers know. Some of them even run their personal lives that way. This district needs to clean house from the top down starting below our new super. She can have a chance for 1 year. She is familiar with everything already. Mr. Navarro, I am going to give you a chance because I have watched you vote so far. But keep in mind I want to see some backbone which has never been used by a board member in at least 30 years. All I ever hear from every board member is, “I am only one vote and can’t do a thing”. Bull!

  5. Veronica Dyson says:

    I’m curious to know at what level the declining enrollment is happening at. As a teacher at Grant, we seem pretty full. Our 4th grades are at capacity with 32 students each. From what I hear from my teacher friends, everyone has very full classes at 4th and 5th grade with quite a few new students enrolling at the start of the year.

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