Coast Unified trustees approved a budget for the 2016-17 school year, along with contracts between the school district and both certificated and classified personnel at their meeting Thursday, June 30. All three passed unanimously.
The 2016-17 budget assumes total revenues of just over $13.4 million, down slightly from nearly $13.6 million during the just-completed year. Expenditures, meanwhile, are expected to increase by nearly $1 million to $14.9 million, with all of that increase coming in the General Fund budget.
Annie LaChance, the district’s business manager, said much of the deficit spending was the result of large, one-time expenditures, such as $850,000 set aside to be spent on the new Santa Lucia Middle School field.
“Those are all one-time things. These are not ongoing costs,” she said, adding that the district did not engage in deficit spending last year. “I do not like to deficit-spend. ... I’m very aware that it’s public funds and we need to be responsible in spending.”
We can’t continue deficit spending. That will have to be addressed.
Annie LaChance, Coast Unified business manager
LaChance said the district would have a better idea of what funds are coming in by the time it holds budget sessions in October.
“We can’t continue deficit spending,” she said. “That will have to be addressed.”
Among the budget highlights: Increases are expected in salaries for certificated and classified employees, as well as employee benefits. Reductions are budgeted for books and supplies (down $116,000), and capital outlay, which will fall from nearly $884,000 to around $297,000. The biggest increase is in certificated salaries, which are projected to rise by nearly $300,000.
The new three-year contract with district teachers calls for a 2016-17 increase of 2 percent in salaries for Coast Unified teachers, in an agreement with the Coast Cambria Teachers Association. Salaries for 2017-18 will be determined based on tax revenues: If the district’s total property tax revenues rise by less than 2 percent, there will be no increase; if they rise by at least 2 percent, there will be a 0.5 percent increase, with additional increases of a half-percent for tax revenues of more than 3, 4 and 5 percent.
A three-year agreement with the North Coast School Employees Association likewise calls for a 2 percent increase in the upcoming school year and the same potential salaries the following year based on property tax revenues. The same formula will be in play for confidential/management employees under their contract, also approved by the board at the June 30 meeting.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board heard year-end reports on the art program from Suzette Morrow and the drama program from Drama Club Vice President Anna Harrington.
Morrow highlighted the “teams and themes” approach to art this year, looking back on projects involving scarecrows for Cambria’s annual festival; the creation of a “Fairy Garden” at Santa Lucia Middle School and the annual student art show.
Harrington revealed that next year’s spring musical will be “Back to the 80s,” a production set in 1989 that will open March 31 in the Coast Union gym. A production of four comedy shorts will be staged during the first two weeks of November.
Harrington said membership in the club had been expanded to include students as young as fifth grade.
I have personally had a board member tell me, ‘I hear you.’ Multiple times. Yet I still do not feel heard.
Anna Harrington, Coast Unified student trustee
In her role as student board representative, Harrington also presented results of a student survey that revealed what she called “a disconnect” between students and the board: “I constantly heard the word ‘miscommunication,’ and to my discovery, 90 percent of the 177 students that filled out the survey did not know what the administrative Board of Trustees was, let alone who was on it.”
Harrington, who is stepping down as student trustee, recommended that at least one board member attend each school site council meeting, and that the board participate in two “meet-and-greet” events each year on the Coast Union campus to hear student concerns.
“I have personally had a board member tell me, ‘I hear you.’ Multiple times. Yet I still do not feel heard,” Harrington said.
District Superintendent Vicki Schumacher, meanwhile, said she plans to address concerns from community members about communication by holding additional community engagement meetings in the coming school year. First on the agenda is a special board study session at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 to discuss the district’s vision for moving forward with the arrival of new principal Scott Ferguson at Coast Union.
In other business, Maintenance and Operations Director Lee Wight updated the board on several projects:
▪ Plans to replace doorknobs on five front gates at Coast Union — some of which no longer work — with “panic bars” at a cost of $5,000.
▪ New linoleum flooring, replacing carpeting, for Room 12 at Santa Lucia Middle School and Room 304 at Coast Union, at a cost of $4,494.
▪ Portable classroom projects at the middle and high schools.
Wight also said grading had been done on the new middle school field.