Fairfield-Suisun schools consider initial state budget plan

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Figures show staff pay, pension costs outpace funding hike

FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun School District is expected to receive nearly $5 million more in base public funding next year than it projects this school year based on the Governor’s proposed state budget — but also faces more than $5.5 million in additional retirement costs, according to a preliminary budget review.

Laneia Grindle, assistant superintendent of business services, gave the school board an update Thursday on the governor’s budget proposal and how it fits — at least tentatively — into local plans that include staff increases totaling more than $4.5 million for the upcoming school year and approximately $1 million in each of the next two years.

“It’s a starting point to build our budget,” Grindle said.

The first look at the 2022-23 budget shows $4.9 million in additional funding available that could — and more than likely — change by May when the state’s next fiscal plan is revised.

“Clearly LCAP and the budget are linked for the upcoming school year,” Grindle said, referring to the required local control and accountability plan.

LCAP is a three-year plan that outlines “goals, actions, services, and expenditures” to support what the state Department of Education describes as “positive student outcomes” that meet national and local priorities. The Local Control and Accountability Plan “provides an opportunity” for school districts “to share their stories about how, what, and why programs and services are selected to meet their local needs.”

Current school district funding based on average daily attendance is $10,193 per student — or $207.4 million, according to the report. ADA’s estimated funding for the 2022-23 school year is $10,763, or $212.3 million.

“These estimates will be affected by the state’s pandemic relief for schools impacted by steep enrollment declines and absenteeism,” Grindle said. “All schools are affected by declining enrollment.”

The board is considering salary increases over the next three years for graduate and salaried employees that will cost approximately $4.6 million in the coming year, $1.1 million in 2023-24 and $928,000. $ in 2024-25. Rates are subject to change based on a decision by the employees’ respective state pension boards.

The council’s priorities include a deferred maintenance plan of 1.25% of total budgeted expenditures annually, or $3.1 million for the current year, according to the staff report. The amount for unfunded projects is $15 million; with a planned transfer of $3.3 million for 2022-23.

In addition, the district plans to fund other post-employment benefits of $500,000 to pre-fund retiree benefits with an unfunded liability of $87 million, according to the staff report. A total of $4.5 million is set aside to fund this benefit liability.

District officials are also considering future textbook adoptions and want to set aside $2.5 million a year in reserves to cover an estimated total cost of $18 million. The district currently has $13.3 million set aside for future textbook purchases, according to the staff report. The district estimates costs at $1.3 million per year for technology replacement and $500,000 for technology costs related to Measure J projects. The district spent or committed $3 million this school year .

Measure J is a $249 million property tax measure passed by local voters in June 2016 that funded the latest round of facility improvements throughout the district.

The cost in the budget for safety and security projects is estimated at $500,000 per year to meet venue replacement and playground security needs.

Some one-time priorities for the upcoming school year that have already been approved include $750,000 for intrusion and fire systems and additional security cameras, $1.5 million for playground replacement, and $2 million for vocational technical education facilities. The district is considering a $2,000 salary bonus for employees and $2 million to pay substitute teachers.

The school district is still facing a staffing shortage due to Covid-19. Other ongoing issues are continued inflation, expectations of transitional kindergarten expansion, potential wage settlements that will affect the budget, and pension rate increases of $5.7 million for the next two years.

Additionally, district officials just learned the state’s new Covid furlough information. They are waiting to see how it plays out, which will be taken into account when planning the budget for 2022-23.

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