Saturday, May 25, 2024

$2.3 Million Budget Shortfall Prompts Potential Layoffs at CUSD

Contributing Factors Include Declining Enrollment, Exhausted COVID Monies and Decreased Revenue from State

(David Gyung / iStock)

The Coronado Unified School District will likely make staffing cuts, according to a representative of the district. The CUSD school board approved several resolutions to clarify which positions may be released at a special board meeting on Monday, March 4.

Positions that could be cut include mental health clinician, clinical counselor, school counselor, Spanish teacher, program specialists and maintenance worker, for the equivalent of a total of 6.53 full-time positions. But Maria Simon, Public Information Officer for CUSD, stressed that the district won’t finalize this decision until June, when the California state budget is complete.

In response to the governor’s proposed budget for the 2024-2025 school year, districts across the state and in San Diego are making reductions in staffing and programs. Consequently, CUSD has identified a $2.3 million budget deficit for the coming school year, according to a statement shared by the district.

In previous board meetings, Superintendent Karl Mueller had alluded to impending “belt tightening” in regard to shifting budget concerns.

“We wish we weren’t in this position,” said Mueller in an email. “The uncertainty and shift in funding necessitate these reductions.”

Three factors contribute to this deficit, according to a statement from CUSD. First, one-time COVID monies are exhausted. Districts received a significant influx of one-time monies to add programs and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The last of those monies will be exhausted at the end of the current school year, June 30, 2024. This results in a decrease in $1.1 million in funding compared to the current year, according to the statement.

Secondly, the state’s prediction for the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) has decreased significantly, from 3.94% to 1%. This represents an impact of about $1 million in decreased revenue to CUSD.

Finally, there’s the problem of declining enrollment. Student attendance is a major driver of CUSD’s funding and the district’s enrollment continues to decline below its historical average of more than 3,000 students enrolled across its four schools. Currently, enrollment is at 2,737. CUSD receives approximately $1.2 million for every 100 students enrolled, according to the statement.

But CUSD is working hard to address these budget challenges, said the district. This includes creating right-size staffing ratios, as CUSD is staffed at the same level today as it was when the district had 300 more students.

In addition, the district will take steps to increase student enrollment, which includes expanding the interdistrict transfer application window and accelerating its online registration process. Finally, CUSD staff continue to apply for grants and explore alternative funding sources as the district approaches basic aid in the 2027-2028 school year.

“Our commitment to our staff, students, and community is to continue providing our students with the support and resources they need to be successful while in our care,” said Mueller. “Our ultimate goal is to restore and continue growing the experiences offered in CUSD.”

Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuyl
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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