The good news is that the Mountain View Whisman School District's "deficit spending" does not cut as deep into reserve funds as had been anticipated by the projected budget drafted in June 2010, according to Shaw-Lee Ouyang, the district chief business officer.
Back in June, estimates handed down from Sacramento had Craig Goldman, then the district's chief financial officer, projecting that Mountain View Whisman would be $950,000 in the red by June 30, 2011, the fiscal year's end.
But the second interim budget report for 2010-11, presented to the board of trustees on March 17, shows that the district is on track to spend about $700,000 more than what it will receive in revenues from the state — roughly $250,000 less than originally anticipated.
The reduction came thanks to unexpected increases in funding from the state, Ouyang said. "That's a good sign. It's an improvement."
Ouyang was quick to add a caveat: "The state is still in chaos," she said. "I won't say that this is a pattern going forward."
California is currently grappling with a $26.6 billion budget shortfall, and although Gov. Jerry Brown has said no more cuts will come to the state's primary and secondary schools, there is much that is still up in the air. As things currently stand, Ouyang said, "We can only plan year to year."
The report did not take into account the money the district will receive as a result of the new Shoreline Community joint powers agreement, which will give Mountain View Whisman about $6.8 million over the next three years. Ouyang did not include the new revenue in her report because at the time she was writing it, the new agreement had not been finalized.
"We're very lucky to be having that money come into our district at this time," she said, noting that it will help the district maintain a "better cash flow during a difficult time."
Still, Ouyang said, the new Shoreline arrangement is not a silver bullet. The current agreement is scheduled to expire in 2013. "I can't predict what will happen in 2013," she said.