Douglas County did not have to cut High School and Middle School budgets this year — it is time to restore school budgets for the 2013-14 school year. The following information provides a timeline with available links:
Parents begin to notice a pattern of growth in the District’s fund balance. Numerous requests are made to the Board of Education, Fiscal Oversight Committee and the District Accountability Committee to use the anticipated growth of the 2012 fund balance to eliminate proposed cuts to the schools.
- January 17, 2012 – Parent Public Comment on Growth to the Fund Balance
- February 21, 2012 – Parent request submitted to the Board of Education
- March 4, 2012 – Formal request to Board of Education and Fiscal Oversight Committee from 9 citizens
- March 2012 – Budget Facts and Explanations Summary video (4 minutes)
- March 2012 – Budget Facts and Explanations video (12 minutes)
- March 20, 2012 – Public Comment on Cuts to High Schools with audio that includes Board’s responses
- May 8, 2012 – Parent Request to District Accountability Committee
None of the above requests received a written response despite the public presentations made to the Board and Board committees.
June 19, 2012
The Board of Education approves the 2012/13 Budget which includes $18.1 million in cuts — $4.1 million of which are cuts to the middle and high schools (reference page 6 of the Board presentation which references $.5 million cut to middle and $3.6 million cut to high schools).
$63 million – the 2011/12 Projected Ending Fund Balance used as the Beginning Fund Balance in the 2012/13 Budget (page 9 of the 2012/13 Budget Book).
September 18, 2012
The District announces that additional funds have been discovered during the closing of the 2011/12 school year.
$74.5 million – the 2011/12 Projected Ending Fund Balance according to the 4th quarter financials.
December 13, 2012
The 2011/12 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is released.
The ending fund balance is $100 million when Capital Projects is included. However, the addition of the Capital Projects Fund in the General Fund Balance is a recent addition, which distorts the historical trend. In order to see the historical trend and for comparison purposes across different school districts, Capital Projects is removed (which is the way the general fund balance has been reported in past years). With the Capital Projects Fund removed, the fund balance is $83 million. (For additional detail on why the $83 million fund balance is appropriate for comparing historical trend data, visit http://strongschoolscoalition.org/resources/2012-cafr-qa/).
$83 million – the final 2011/12 Ending Fund Balance
|$83 million||Audited Ending Fund Balance for 2011/12|
|– $63 million||Projected Ending Fund Balance for 2011/12|
|$20 million||Growth to anticipated fund balance|
The following categories were not included (or budgeted for) in the adopted 2012/13 Budget and were added to the fund balance using the unexpected growth:
|+ $2 million||Added to Risk Insurance (original amount was budgeted at $829,206)|
|+ $2.2 million||New Category added to cover PERA in 2014 (one year from the current fiscal year)|
|+ $3.2 million||New Category: Additional funds of $75 per pupil returned to the schools|
|+ $2.8 million||New Category: Additional 1% retention bonus|
|+ $6 million||New Category: Extended severance pay for employees eligible to retire in 2013 and 2014|
|+ $1 million||Increase to TABOR Reserve|
|+ $3 million||Growth to Unassigned Fund Balance|
What can we conclude?
Although some of the unanticipated growth in funds were allocated back to the schools and teachers when the additional growth was discovered, it is clear that no cuts were needed to the middle or high schools for 2012/13.
Furthermore, the District was unable to manage its budget to know that extraordinary growth of the DCSD General Fund balance would occur, as evidenced by the unplanned growth of $20 million in the General Fund balance.
Given the District has not acted to rectify in full the recurring growth in the General Fund Balance, it stands to reason the growth of the General Fund Balance will be repeated again this year. This recurring growth has materialized each year since 2010 and can be utilized to restore the funds to the middle and high schools.
* Update as of February 4, 2013 – The Strong Schools Coalition is committed to providing complete and accurate information. The Restore Our Schools document was released on January 14, 2013. On January 31st, 2013, members of the Strong Schools Coalition were invited by a third party to a meeting that included three District officials, including Douglas County School District’s Chief Financial Officer, Bonnie Betz. During this meeting, it was brought to our attention that the Beginning Fund Balance number from the 2012/13 Financial Plan and Budget of $56 million that we had used on this document did not include the Transportation, Risk Insurance or Full Day Kindergarten.
In order to provide a consistent calculation of the General Fund Balance across the last 4 years, we include the Transportation, Risk Insurance and Full Day Kindergarten funds when showing the General Fund Balance as they were included in the General Fund Balance prior to 2011. Therefore, we have added the Transportation, Risk Insurance and Full Day Kindergarten Beginning Fund Balances to the Beginning General Fund Balance from the 2012/13 Financial Plan and Budget. This increased the Beginning Fund Balance on our document to $63 million. Furthermore, upon review of the September fourth quarter financials, we determined that we needed to add the Transportation and Risk Insurance (Full Day Kindergarten was already included) to the General Fund Balance and increased it from $73.5 million to $74.5 million.
Full transparency and accountability is important to the Strong Schools Coalition. We adjusted these numbers when the District brought them to our attention and our concerns regarding the need to restore funding to our schools remains unchanged.