The Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District held their final board meeting for the 2020-21 school year on June 22. It was a noticeably short meeting with mostly routine items on the agenda. The next regular meeting won’t occur until August 17, 2021. Only three trustees were present. Trustees Leffler Brown and Joe Cimino were not in attendance. They again met in-person at the Rancho Cotate High School TAG building.
There was a closed session held prior to the open session. Three items were discussed. One was continuing discussion on labor negotiations with a district’s bargaining unit. Another was a discussion of Superintendent Mayra Perez’s performance evaluation. The third was concerning a confidential special education settlement agreement. The only action taken in closed session was approval of the settlement agreement as reported out by Board President Chrissa Gillies.
Assistant Superintendent LuzElena Perez provided a short informational report on the California Schools Dashboard Local Indicators. This is an accountability model used to address local control funding formula (LCFF) priority areas for which data is not collected at state level. They must be presented to the Board of Trustees to show progress towards improvement and engagement in these priority areas. They cover goals for appropriately assigned teachers, access to curriculum-aligned instruction materials, and safe, clean, and functional school facilities. They also cover implementation of State Academic Standards; Parent Engagement; School Climate; and Access to a Broad Course of Study. Perez reported that progress was made in all areas this year.
The board approved resolution 2021-19. This resolution allows the district to borrow up to $16 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year. Chief Business Official Robert Marical, who is retiring at the end of this month, informed the board this is an annual action. He explained that revenues come in at different times during the year while expenses must be paid each month. Without this borrowing authority, the district could experience a negative cash flow. This is an advance of anticipated property tax revenue from the County Treasurer that allows the district to borrow up to 85 percent of anticipated property tax revenue. The borrowing cost to the district is low and likely no higher than 1.0 percent or $10,000. Any funds borrowed would have to be repaid in full no later than the last Monday in April 2022. The borrowing will be on an as-needed basis.
Two other end-of-year must adopt actions were also approved by the board. First, they adopted the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for 2021-22. This three-year plan addresses the state priorities specified in the Education Code 52060. It must be updated on or before July 1 of each year. The plan was presented at a public hearing at the previous board meeting and now that it has been adopted it will be filed with the Sonoma County Office of Education. It includes a Budget Overview for Parents for 2021-22 and goes together with the adoption of the 2021-22 proposed budget.
The proposed budget was adopted following the adoption of the LCAP. The preliminary was presented also at the last board meeting, so tonight was the formal adoption. Marical went through a series of slides showing the board the numbers and highlighting concerns. The final numbers won’t be in until the state takes legislative action on the governor’s May budget proposal. They have until June 30 to do so. So Marical is using estimates and said potentially additional funding could become available. He also indicated a slight enrollment trend increase from current numbers but is budgeting for a flat increase until that trend can be confirmed in the fall. Costs are going up, however. Property and Liability Insurance increased by 29 percent or $244,000. Health and Welfare costs are up 5 percent mainly due to impacts of COVID-19. Likewise State Unemployment Insurance jumped from $17,000 to $395,000.
In 2021-22, revenues are expected to be $71,775,168 while expenditures are estimated at $72,163,554, 82 percent of which are for salaries and benefits. So projected deficit is $388,386. That deficit jumps to $945,728 in 2022-23 and then drops to $320,162 in 2023-24. However, if additional revenues from the state increase or expenses decrease the deficit estimates will change. Of course, there are also uncertainties too. Salary negotiations for 2021-22 are ongoing, declining enrollment may occur, or an economic downturn might happen. However, Marical said the district is doing okay and able to maintain a reserve of 4 percent in all three years. Three percent is the state mandated minimum.