Redwood City School District aims for financial recovery

Redwood City School District leaders faced with an unexpected $2.6 million financial shortfall are developing strategies for patching the hole in the elementary-school district’s 2007-08 budget.

Although $1.8 million was cut from the district’s budget before the school year began, a decline in enrollment cost the district vital funds from the state, district Finance Director Raul Parungao said. Parungao will present a savings plan on Dec. 12 to the school board, which will likely recommend covering the shortfall with money from district reserve funds, Superintendent Jan Christensen said.

Doing so would cut the district’s $4.7 million reserve, used for emergencies, in half and leave it with the minimum required by law. To further complicate matters, district leaders are already bracing for a deficit from California’s anticipated $10 billion shortfall next year, Christensen said.

“We’ve lost 569 students, and a big drop in enrollment means a big drop in revenue,” Parungao said. “In any school district, you lose revenue faster than you lose expenditures, so it’s quite a hit.”

The Redwood City School District’s revenues this year are estimated to be $76.5 million, while expenses are $79.1 million. Its budget is based on an enrollment number predicted before the school year begins. Enrollment has declined from a high of 9,328 in the 1998-99 school year to 8,646 in the 2006-07 school year, according to the California Department of Education.

The district faced a $3 million shortfall in 2005 and went after a parcel tax that voters rejected in May of that year. The district patched the deficit by pulling money from reserves to preserve the jobs of 57 teachers and retain class-size reduction and other school programs threatened by budget cuts.

Earlier this year, district leaders offered teachers retirement incentives — which resulted in the removal of five teaching positions —and allowed class sizes to rise in the upper grades, Christensen said.

For the longer term, “we’re looking at all areas of our budget to find out if we can find any savings,” Christensen said.

Meanwhile, the district has a $5 million surplus in restricted funds that can only be used for specific programs for low-income students, or those learning English, Parungao said.

The Redwood City Education Foundation, an independent nonprofit that has the goal of raising money for the district, aims to raise $350,000 during the school year. However, that money will pay for specific programs, including music education and outdoor learning, foundation President Adam Borison said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalPeninsula

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A ban on smoking or vaping in multi-unit buildings has drawn opposition from cannabis advocates, who say it would leave users with no legal place to consume a legal substance. (Shutterstock)
Cannabis group slams Yee’s proposed apartment smoking ban as ‘classist’

Legislation would impose fines of $1,000 a day on repeat violators

The most dangerous behaviors by drivers include failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalks, unsafe speeding and failing to stop at red lights or stop signs. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite, which supplies water to San Francisco, is among the concerns of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is undergoing a change of leadership. <ins>(Courtesy SFPUC)</ins>
Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Will agency’s new commissioner continue to support Big Ag?

Supervisor Shamann Walton joined with community members to speak out against rising homicides, which have taken a heavy toll in the Bayview-Hunters Point in 2020. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F Examiner)
SF homicides surpass 2019 total with month left in year

Police attribute rise to COVID-19, shootings and deadly gang violence

A screenshot from SFPD body worn camera
New videos show police shooting man armed with knife, frying pan

Police say Antonio Estrada set fire to apartment building before shooting

Most Read