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Op-Ed: Some Tough Decisions Now Will Keep District...

Op-Ed: Some Tough Decisions Now Will Keep District on the Rise

By Supt. Antwan Wilson

 

Each year the budget prioritization process ensures we are good stewards of public funds and engages us in strategic decision-making.

 

This year, we are facing a more challenging budget environment.  

 

With enrollment down by 400 students and uncertainty around future state and federal funding levels for education, the projected increase is less than in the past three years.

 

Consequently, we must identify ways to increase academic spending while reducing operational and administrative costs.

 

In the past, we have made organizational adjustments that only impacted the central budget. This year, if we want to ensure a balanced budget, we must look beyond the central budget as most of the dollars we receive are allocated to schools.

 

There is no large looming deficit, but we still have some difficult choices to make.

 

In order to ensure future strategic investments and to prevent a budget shortfall in FY 2017-18, we are asking the Board to agree to expenditure reductions in unrestricted general funds for the remainder of this school year.

 

Additionally, the District is recommending increased investments in key areas for 2017-18, totaling $25M, honoring the community driven recommendations from our Parent Student Advisory Committee (PSAC) and Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) advisory group and which have emerged from other stakeholder engagement sessions.

 

In an effort to finance these increased investments, we are recommending further reduction of central office operations and operational reorganization at select shared campus sites.

 

To be clear, we are not recommending closing school buildings or programs within them.

 

The District has come a long way to improve our financial picture.

 

Last year, we completed fiscal audits that helped us to earn a top tier credit rating. In addition, an independent auditor has signed off on our books each of the past two years.

 

Per pupil spending in our schools has increased from $5,789 in 2014 to an average of $8,120 this year.

 

The increased share for schools and investments in critical areas were made possible by additional money from the state and cuts of nearly $10 million in central office spending over the past three years.

 

In fact, our central office spending is now 7 percent of the budget, down from 12 percent in 2013, and it is forecasted to decrease even further next year.

 

We continue to make difficult decisions to organize our work throughout the district to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Staying the course we have set over the past few years is key to supporting our schools and teachers and accelerating progress for our students.

 

To learn more about the OUSD budget process visit: www.ousd.org/budget2017


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