CALEXICO — The Imperial County Office of Education has issued the Calexico Unified School District a positive certification, meaning it will be able to meet its financial obligations this year and the next two years, following review of its first interim report.
“That is a great change from this time last year,” Calexico Unified Superintendent Maria Ambriz said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “Congratulations are in order to our district on this bit of news, especially given that we’ve made great strides over the last 18 months in getting to this positive certification. We don’t ignore the fact that hard decisions were made along the way.”
The report also details potential challenges the district faces, which Ambriz acknowledged.
“The greater test is now before us, because we have to make every attempt to stay in positive certification through the ensuing budget cycles,” she said.
The letter from the Office of Education details that the district projects declines in both the unrestricted and restricted fund balances, which will make it difficult to meet reserve and cash requirements, according to the report.
This was cited in the areas of concern as the district is projected to deficit spend on the unrestricted side by $1.666 million in 2013-14 and $3.05 million in 2014-15.
“Continued deficit spending will erode the district’s ending fund balance and will minimize the district’s ability to address unforeseen circumstances,” the letter from the Office of Education reads. “We encourage the district to make ongoing expenditure reductions to minimize deficit spending in future years.”
Due to the state’s deferrals of apportionments to schools, there will also be a reduction of available cash in certain months of 2012-13 that will be addressed by a cross-year Tax and Revenue Anticipation Note, and the district was advised to closely monitor that situation.
Contract negotiations remain unsettled for 2012-13, and since those salaries and benefits make up a large portion of the budget, any increase “could adversely impact the fiscal condition of the district,” according to the letter.
The Office of Education advised that before considering any increases, “the district should ensure that the costs will be supported by ongoing revenue to avoid creating or exacerbating structural deficits,” also taking into account the “uncertainty of the state budget.”
The letter specified that with the passage of Proposition 30, “it appears that public education may now begin to recover from the devastating cuts we endured over the past several years,” but advises exercising caution until those moneys are actually allocated.
It also specifically mentioned that the governor’s proposed “Local Control Funding Formula” could “represent dramatic changes to how our schools are funded,” and recommends the district monitor how the implementation of this formula could affect the district.
Both the Office of Education and Ambriz thanked and credited Calexico Unified Business Superintendent Mei Donaldson for her work with the district finances.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org