SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The California State Auditor’s office has released a report sharply critical of the Sacramento City Unified School District.

The school district faces insolvency as a budget shortfall of nearly $20 million is projected for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

With the district and teachers union continuing to be at odds over how to overcome the shortfall, the state auditor’s office conducted a review. The auditor’s findings were released on Tuesday.

Increased spending for teacher salaries and benefits is the primary factor for the school district’s dire financial situation, according to the audit. A new labor contract approved in 2017 increased teacher salaries by 15 percent – an additional cost of $31 million per year. Further, the auditor found that the cost of employee benefits has increased 52 percent over a five-year period.

As the auditor found, Sac City Unified has the highest total compensation for teachers among other nearby school districts – like Elk Grove, San Juan, Stockton and Twin Rivers.

Sac City Unified said, in a statement after the report was released, they agreed with the auditor’s finding. However, the district also argues that the new contract was necessary to avoid a teacher strike.

“It is important to understand that our Board made difficult financial decisions in 2017 to avoid a teacher’s strike that would have had a devastating impact on our students,” said Jessie Ryan, president of the Sacramento City Unified Board of Education. “We decided to not make additional cuts because they were a one-time fix with serious, long-term impacts to student learning.”

Further, the auditor found special education to be a major factor in the funding gap. The auditor says special education costs have doubled for 2017-18, accounting for 21 percent of Sac City Unified’s total spending that fiscal year.

The auditor urges the district to act quickly to implement a plan, the report states. The district says the solution lies in reducing healthcare and other labor costs.

Sac City Unified faces a state takeover if a solution can’t be found. The district is projected to exhaust its funds by October 2021.

Read the full auditor’s report here: http://auditor.ca.gov/reports/2019-108/summary.html.

Comments
  1. Todd Maddison says:

    This is exactly what I have been pointing out for years, except this article, as with many in the media, downplays the real story a bit.

    Yes, a 15% raise gets your attention, but long term this district – like almost every other district I’ve examined across the state – has been using the increased funding from Prop 30 to fund it’s own raises rather than “better education for our kids”, as promised.

    In Sac City’s case, since 2013 their average raise rate – for all full time employees in the district who have been with them during this time (2013 through 2018) – has been 6.68%.

    PER YEAR.

    And this during a time when the average for everyone else in the district has been 2.04%, meaning the district has been giving itself raises at over 3x the rate that everyone else has been seeing in their check.

    The pay data is per publicly reported data given by Sac City to Transparent California, the comparable county data per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    So it’s not just a one time “oops” caused by a district and board who do not understand financials, it’s a continuous and deliberate use of your tax dollars – for something you most certainly did not think was going to be their use when you voted for higher taxes “to fund better education”.

    Meanwhile, for this, we see the CA School Dashboard measures are essentially flat.

    Are we getting that “better education” by simply lining the pockets of the education industry? Seems like a very self-serving interpretation, not one that serves their parents.

    And, for those who will make the excuse “but we had to, because their pay is SO LOW they’re in danger of eating cat food”, that same data shows that the median administrator currently makes $123,652 and the median teacher $86,484.

    Not riches, but neither category in danger of having to eat cat food to survive.

    Perhaps the parents of Sac City, instead of lining up at public board meetings urging the district to “respect” their education employees (by paying them more than they get themselves), should have looked at actual numbers and told their board members “enough is enough” with pay, and now is the time to spend money on the kids instead?

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