Rocklin Unified finds $4M to cut deficit

District could have another $2.8M for deficit
By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Faced with layoffs, cuts and furloughs this year, Rocklin Unified recently welcomed good news for the 2011-12 school year. The district has identified approximately $4 million that will be used toward the $6 million deficit the district faces for the next school year. The $4 million is a result of various avenues including an unexpected increase in enrollment, an increase to the ending general fund balance and money received from the Federal Jobs Act. “This board has positioned this district in the best financial position with these financial times,” Rocklin Unified Superintendent Kevin Brown said during last Wednesday’s board meeting. The unanticipated dollars are a combination of sources. The district’s 2009-10 ending fund balance was in excess of $1.4 million. This surplus was the result of staff taking less sick time, not replacing positions that became vacant during the year, high student attendance and other factors. In addition to that, the district received $1.7 million from the Federal Jobs Act. An additional $300,000 was allocated and not needed for anticipated substitute costs. The district also planned for Western Sierra Collegiate Academy charter school to enroll more Rocklin students. Instead, the school’s Rocklin enrollment increased by only 42 students, according to district documents. Enrollment within district-run schools also increased by 211 students, which should result in approximately $700,000 new revenue. The total comes to approximately $4.1 million unanticipated dollars that will be used toward the 2011-12 district deficit. “The district is in very strong financial shape,” going into next year, said Barbara Patterson, associate superintendent of business services. Board President Wendy Lang said the news is of “great comfort.” Last year, the district dealt with an $8 million budget shortage, which was balanced through increased class sizes, a Voluntary Athletic Contribution, limited transportation and employee furloughs. But things are looking brighter for the 2011-12 school year, Brown said. The state budget that was recently passed eliminates the negative cost of living adjustment as well as the 3.85 percent reduction to the revenue limit. This could result is an additional $2.8 million that can be used toward the $6 million shortfall. If the Nov. 2 election does not affect the state budget for the next school year, Brown said the district might not have to make any layoffs or seek employee compensation reductions. “I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but given the work that’s been done by everyone throughout the organizations and the leadership from our board of trustees, we are in a very solid financial position moving into the 2011-12 school year,” Brown wrote to staff in an e-mail. “Working together throughout this year and continuing to reduce costs will provide us with added reserves to insure this goal can be met. You are all to be commended.”