Financial staff at the Elk Grove Unified School District expect increased state funding after reviewing the 2022-23 state budget that was approved in late June. These funds will be used to support 68 schools serving more than 60,000 students.
In June, the Elk Grove School District approved an interim budget of $881.1 million for the 2022/23 school year. Because the state budget was not yet signed, the district did not know how much funding it would receive.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state budget plan that calls for $102 billion in spending on K-12 education and community colleges shortly thereafter.
In June, the state’s local control funding formula was expected to bring in $637 million to financial services staff. They now expect $696.3 million in such revenue, district chief financial officer Shannon Hayes told the school board at their Aug. 9 meeting.
Two major factors driving the increase in state funding are the 6.5% increase in the state’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and the state’s option mitigate funding losses due to declining enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hayes said COLA’s rise this year is 6.5%. “very, very high number.” She said COLA increases never exceeded 2.5% before the pandemic. However, she warned that the state would not be able to sustain this large increase in COLA for long.
The state has created an option for K-12 districts, such as Elk Grove Unified, to receive Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding. This is done by averaging their ADA rates over the past three years. Hayes told the school board that his team chose that option. Based on the three-year average of 60,381 students, the district expects funding from the ADA.
Elk Grove Unified’s previous ADA funding was based on current and previous school year ADA rates.
The district reported a drop in enrollment of 412 students in 2020-21 and 893 students in 2019-20.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, students were forced to switch from classroom learning to online learning. Classroom learning returned to district campuses in a limited way in the spring of 2021. In-person classes were permitted for students to attend five days a week in the fall.
Superintendent Christopher Hoffman said the budget plan is keeping employees employed despite declining enrollment when the school board discussed the draft 2022/23 budget at its June 28 meeting.
“We are maintaining the status quo in place with respect to staffing, although we have had reductions in the number of children,” he told the board. “We try to make sure we have the level of service that our families expect.”
At the August 9 school board meeting, administrators also learned that the new state budget could provide their district with $9.7 million for transportation services and about $71 million in grant funds. Global Emergency for Learning Recovery to help schools during the pandemic. Hayes said these learning recovery funds could be used to help students with academic credit gaps, overcome barriers to learning, and close learning gaps.
Hayes also introduced administrators that their district could apply for state grants, such as $37 million for arts, music and instructional materials and $75,000 for anti-bias educator training.
She said funds from the Arts and Musicians Grant can be used to improve school culture, build various book collections and help with operating costs. Carmine Forcina, district administrator, advised staff to continue funding arts and music programs in addition to educational materials.
“The legislator has given himself a bit,” he said. “They weren’t brave enough to support art and music; we have the opportunity to do so, and I hope we will.
The school board will further review the district’s budget plans at a special meeting at 11 a.m. on Aug. 23.