(For the latest news and notes about Irvine Unified, visit the IUSD NewsFlash.)
State spending plan is complex but positive for schools
The IUSD Board of Education voted to adopt a budget for the 2013-14 school year on June 25, and for the first time in years the forecast for Irvine and other districts looked relatively bright.
John Fogarty, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, said IUSD’s spending plan was based on the latest projections out of Sacramento, where Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature recently reached agreement on a brand new funding formula for K-12 education.
The new model provides a base level of funding for school districts while providing additional dollars for English-language learners, students in foster care and students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. Fogarty said it is expected to generate approximately $315 per student in additional revenues for IUSD.
Though there are a number of details to be revealed, including the unveiling of a new accountability system, the extra funding would appear to begin an era of recovery for California’s public schools after years of devastating cuts.
“This is a much better budget picture than we’ve seen in many years,” Fogarty said.
At the same time, he said, a convoluted accounting requirement from the state will prompt IUSD to dig into its reserves for one more year. Here’s why:
During the economic downturn, Irvine fell into an alternate funding formula known as Basic Aid, in which a district is funded by its own property taxes. This usually means more revenue, but in the interest of equity, the state decided in 2009 that it would scoop away any extra funding from Basic Aid districts. Because California waits a year to take these dollars, IUSD will be stripped of about $10 million for the 2012-13 school year sometime in 2013-14, Fogarty said.
With that in mind, the spending plan approved for IUSD outlines $233.2 million worth of expenditures – both restricted and unrestricted – against $225.7 million worth of total revenue. The difference will be offset by reserve set-asides, but Fogarty predicted that positive ending balances will return in 2014-15 and 2015-16, marking the end of deficit spending.
Questions and answers. Have a specific budget question? Click on this link to access some frequently asked questions and answers about the state crisis and its impact on our district.
Basic Aid. Click on this link to access some questions and answers about IUSD's move into the "Basic Aid" funding model.
Categorical Flexibility. "Categorical funding" refers to state dollars that are tied to specific programs. The state recently granted a limited amount of categorical flexibility, meaning some of these dollars can be spent on other high-priority needs. For more information, click on the link above.
More budget information. Click on this link to access IUSD's Business Services page, which includes financial documents, the most recent adopted budget, information on facilities and more.
How to get involved
1. Write a letter to the Governor, or contact your local Assembly member or Senator, urging the protection of education funding. For more information on legislative action, click here.
2. Write a letter to the editor of your favorite newspaper opposing cuts to education.
Irvine World News: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters will be edited for length, grammar and clarity, and those of less than 200 words will be given preference. All letters should include your name, neighborhood and a phone number, which will not be published.
Orange County Register: email@example.com or P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, CA 92711-1626. Letters will be edited for length, grammar and clarity, and those of about 200 words will be given preference. All letters must include a name and telephone number, which will not be published.
Los Angeles Times: firstname.lastname@example.org or 202 W. 1st Street Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please do not send group letters or attachments.