IUSD buoyed by improving economy and state’s renewed investment in K-12 education

At its March 18 meeting, the IUSD Board of Education voted to certify the Second Interim Report as “positive,” meaning the district expects to meet all of its financial obligations for the current year and two subsequent years.

That may have been a given, but it’s been a while since the state economic outlook was this promising.

Prior to the board’s vote, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services John Fogarty shared very encouraging revenue projections and outlined the impacts of Governor Jerry Brown’s new K-12 funding model.

Second Interim Report for 2014“The governor’s proposal provides a very strong investment in education (and) the greatest increase in per-pupil spending that we’ve seen in over a decade, since 2000-2001,” Fogarty told board members. “So not only are we coming out of some very bad years, but we’re coming out in a big, strong way.”

The 2012 passage of Proposition 30 and an improving state economy have led to the robust revenue forecasts, which are key to implementing the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula, also known as the LCFF.

Intended to channel more funds toward students with greater needs, the LCFF begins with a base level of funding that is the same for all districts, though the amount allocated per student differs slightly by grade level. Next comes a layer of supplemental funding that adds 20 percent of the base for every English-language learner, low-income student and foster youth. There is a third layer known as a concentration grant that’s equal to an additional 50 percent of the base, but only for schools and districts where English-learners, low-income students and foster youth make up 55 percent of the total enrollment. IUSD doesn’t qualify for the latter.

The governor’s spending plan allocates about $4.5 billion in LCFF funding, providing an average increase of approximately $755 per student. That equates to a projected increase of $20 million for IUSD, which has an annual unrestricted budget of about $230 million.

In anticipation of the restored funding, the district is working to develop a list of needs and priorities that will be presented to the board for discussion and further direction in April. Superintendent Terry Walker said IUSD was also collecting feedback from local stakeholders in the community as part of the process of developing its Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

IUSD was forced to make approximately $38 million in one-time and ongoing cuts as a result of the state budget crisis, and that’s left a number of significant needs to address. Though big decisions lie ahead, Tuesday’s financial update was certainly welcome news after years of troubling forecasts.

“It’s hard to imagine for those on the board and those of us in education that just 16 months ago we were looking at some very dire cuts that were facing education without the passage of Proposition 30,” Fogarty said.

“The district has done a really good job of setting itself up financially, so we can make some really sound decisions moving forward,” he added.