High school district must dip into savings
MVLA 'deficit spending' in budget, but maintains healthy reserve, official says
Local high schools will not suffer greatly next year, despite the fact that the Mountain View-Los Altos district plans to run at a deficit, the district's head business officer said.
"Even though we're deficit spending, we're still able to meet the operational needs of our district through 2013-14," said Joe White, associate superintendent of business services for the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District.
White said students and teachers won't see many cuts in the coming year, as the district will be dipping into its reserves to maintain programs that might have otherwise suffered cuts. He projected that the district will generate about $51.4 million in revenues from federal, state and local sources over the course of next year — $48.3 million for Mountain View, Los Altos and Alta Vista high schools, and $3.1 million for adult education.
Of the money for MVLA's three high schools, $41.15 million is unrestricted and may be spent any way the district chooses, and $7.14 million is restricted, meaning it must be spent on specific programs such as special education.
That won't be quite enough to cover everything, White said. According to the budget, passed by the Mountain View-Los Altos board of trustees on June 20, the district anticipates drawing as much as $800,000 from its $9.2 million reserve in the 2011-12 school year.
White was quick to point out that even though the district will be pulling from its savings with this budget, it will not dip below the $2.1 million mark, and will easily stay above its 4 percent economic uncertainty reserve.
In drafting the 2011-12 budget, the district had to contend with uncertainty and cuts from above, White said. With the country still battling its way out of the recession and Gov. Jerry Brown playing hardball with Republicans in Sacramento over California's budget, MVLA officials knew that they would face cuts, but it was often difficult to guess at the severity of the cuts, or in what areas those cuts might come.
The district is also leaving wiggle room to deal with increases in the cost of fuel, food, supplies and other services, as well as an expected $500,000 jump in the cost of employee benefits.
Although it appears that millions of dollars of cuts will be handed down from the state and federal level, the district is looking forward to some significant financial boosts from local sources, White said. Property taxes are forecast to grow this year, the district is set to receive $1.4 million from the Shoreline district and the MVLA Education Foundation raised a record $1 million for the coming school year.
Additionally, district officials anticipate it will save about $500,000 thanks to the installation of solar panels at both the Mountain View and Los Altos campuses.
In June 2010, the district anticipated they would generate about 49.2 million, White said, adding that they are currently on track to exceed that number by the time the books close in August.
District enrollment is forecast at 3,629 students in 2011-12.