The Cambrian

Coast Unified tightens belt as trustees approve revised budget

A community engagement meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the board room at the Old Cambria Grammar School.
A community engagement meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the board room at the Old Cambria Grammar School.

Belt-tightening is in the future for Coast Unified School District, and the future is now.

Business Manager Annie Lachance presented a revised budget to the district’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, Aug. 11, that reduces expenditures in response to projected increases in expenses over the next three years.

Lachance said the district would be “looking really hard at expenditures,” particularly at a board study session scheduled for October.

Among the expected challenges are increasing retirement costs. Lachance added that, “as minimum wage increases, that’s going to hit us.”

At the direction of the county, the district revisited its initial budget, presented in June, and revised expenditures downward to reduce its deficit.

For the current 2016-17 fiscal year, the revised budget — adopted on a 4-0 vote of trustees Thursday (Sue Nash was absent) — projects a deficit of $532,133. That’s down significantly from the June budget, which forecast a deficit of $795,447.

Deficits for the next two fiscal years were more than halved, to $257,203 from $615,188 in 2017-18 and to $137,938 from $305,131 in 2018-19.

“I think this demonstrates a real movement in the right direction in getting us where we need to be,” Lachance told the board. “We want to do great things with our district, and we want to be solvent, and the county wants us to be solvent.”

In addition to reducing the deficit, the revised budget also beefs up the reserve fund to $762,020 from $498,707 in the June budget. The reserve in 2017-18 is projected at $504,818, about twice as much as allotted in the June budget, and the following year’s forecast reserve is $501,878, more than five times what was projected in the budget’s earlier version.

Superintendent Vicki Schumacher told the board that the revised budget was acceptable to the county.

We want to do great things with our district, and we want to be solvent, and the county wants us to be solvent.

Annie Lachance, Coast Unified business manager

Addressing another financial issue, the board voted 4-0 to raise meal prices for full-pay students and adults.

Breakfast and lunch prices for students will rise by 25 cents on all district campuses, with prices for adults increasing by $1 to $4. The new prices for students will be $3 at Cambria Grammar School, $3.25 at Santa Lucia Middle School, $3.50 at the high school level and $2.25 for breakfast. They’re the first increases since 2012, Lachance said.

Fair results

Also Thursday, the board heard a report from Darcy Dobrec and four of her FFA students regarding their participation in the California Mid-State Fair.

Dobrec said 14 students entered 16 animals in various livestock categories as part of Coast Union’s agriculture education program. The program’s three components involve classroom learning, a supervised ag education (SAE) project and FFA participation.

Paige Spiller, who graduated from Coast Union in June, raised what Dobrec said was the school’s first reserve grand champion replacement heifer in memory, selling the animal for $8,500.

Spiller told the board that the program helped her improve her communication and patience. “This project has taught me a lot about career skills that I will still be using in 30 years,” she said.

Cammie Tatham sold her fourth and fifth animals in three years at the fair: “my stubborn steer who would not get out of the trailer and my feisty heifer who thought the fairgrounds was a racetrack.”

Dobrec said students in the program learn such skills as budgeting, record-keeping and caring for an animal while having the opportunity to network with local veterinarians, ranchers and other professionals who work with animals.

Other business

▪  Schumacher introduced new Coast Union Principal Scott Ferguson and Christina Lawson, the new food and nutrition services supervisor, to the board.

▪  Cambria Grammar School Principal Bob Watt said he was “proud of the custodial and maintenance staff for all their hard work” during the summer. Projects included installing shades on all the classroom windows at the school.

▪  Kyle Martin, principal at Santa Lucia Middle School, said turf for the new athletic field had been laid but that the project was not yet fully complete; a final inspection is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 18. He also reported that online student registration was “going really well.”

▪  The board voted 4-0 to approve the adoption of the textbook “Veterinary Science” from Texas A&M for use at Coast Union High School.

▪  Schumacher announced a “welcome back” event in the Coast Union cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 22. The first day of school is Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Stephen H. Provost: 805-927-8896, @sproauthor

Community meeting

Coast Unified plans a community engagement meeting on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the district office board room, 1350 Main St. Community members are invited to meet the superintendent and new high school principal.

Discussion will focus on the impact of goals and actions, involving stakeholders; monitoring metrics for shared responsibility of implementation; and next-step planning and commitments regarding the LCAP revision for the next school year.

Additional community engagement meetings are planned for 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18.