San Mateo schools to restore budget reserve

Following years of fiscal problems, a school district’s board of trustees is expected to approve a budget tonight that will restore a mandatory 3 percent reserve.

Though San Mateo Union High School District board members are pleased that reserve goals will be met after two years of falling short, they added that budgets in future years should allow the reserve to grow. The proposed $90 million budget, which cuts funds from several areas — especially transportation, such as school bus routes — is meant to open an opportunity to expand the county-mandated reserve in the long term, said Liz McManus, the district financial head.

“This was probably one of the top priorities for the board this year,” she said. “They made tough decisions to stop the deficit-spending trend.”

The district has been at the center of scrutiny after three recent civil grand jury reports that criticized years of deficit spending. District officials have pinned fiscal problems on shortfalls in anticipated revenue from property taxes.

With most cuts coming from transportation, McManus will sit down with staff next week to streamline specific bus routes and possibly eliminate some routes. She will also work with staff to centralize the storage and maintenance of buses and vehicles. Buses get about four miles a gallon and centralizing vehicle storage would save $30,000 in oil and gas alone, McManus said.

“We have to pay $170,000 for vehicle maintenance, which includes buses,” she said. “A lot of the transportation that use these buses goes to Foster City. But the buses are stored in San Bruno. We are looking at restructuring and locating vehicle maintenance operations in the center of the district.”

Other cuts include the San Mateo Middle College High School, which will be compensated by a College of San Mateo grant. Facility-use and field trip fees will go up. McManus said an additional $130,000 can be saved by hiring at the entry-level status.

On Tuesday, district board members lauded the budget and added that it was a start.

“We need to analyze health benefit costs, utility costs, we need to go further in transportation, and we have overtime issues,” said board trustee Linda Lees Dwyer. “So, as you can see, this is just the beginning.”

bfoley@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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

The admissions process at the academically competitive Lowell High School is set to change this year due to coronavirus restritions. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Lowell’s selective admissions process put on hold this year — and more changes may be in the works

School board votes unanimously to use normal student assignment lottery for competitive school

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, said Tuesday that student would not be back in school before the end of this calendar year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Superintendent: City schools will not reopen before the end of the year

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen to students for the rest of… Continue reading

San Francisco will allow bars selling drinks, and not food, to begin serving customers outdoors under health guidelines going into effect next month. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF becomes first Bay Area County to move to least restrictive COVID-19 category

Change to ‘yellow’ will allow more indoor dining and fitness, reopening non-essential offices

City officials want to install more red light cameras but the process is costly and time consuming. (Shutterstock)
Transit officials push for more red light cameras

SFMTA says ‘capital crunch’ and dragging timelines make expanding the program cumbersome

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

Most Read