HUSD Budget Review Foresees Problems In Future

The budget review presented to the Holtville Unified School District’s Board of Trustees on Monday evening didn’t look so bad on its face, but there are some underlying problems that may very well cause serious problems in the near future.

While the district’s Average Daily Attendance figures used by the state to determine how much money Holtville gets were up last year, they appear to be down this year. This follows a trend over the last decade that saw total student attendance fall from almost 1,800 students during the 200708 school year to just over 1,600 currently.

Assistant Superintendent John-Paul Wells presented the report and told trustees that the lower attendance numbers could result in a cut of about $330,000 by the state next year.

The state does allow districts to base their revenue on the higher figure of any two year period, but the steady decline is sure to have an effect.

Also working against the district is the extra money it receives from the state for having large numbers of low income students and students who don’t speak English well. That funding is gradually decreased over time and is expected to run out soon.

When that happens, the HUSD can expect to receive only Cost Of Living Adjustments. The current COLA is set at 1.56 percent annually, a number that Wells said doesn’t come close to meeting the actual rise in expenditures the district sees. He estimated the real figure to be closer to five percent.

The district’s most recent budget is mostly balanced but shows approximately a $200,000 deficit in one account.

The district has a healthy reserve but Wells cautioned against looking at the number by itself. He points out that the district also has some big expenses, including a $330,000 Mandated Cost settle-up payment that would have actually driven the general fund into a $61,000 deficit.

Expected decreases in state funds will also likely eat away at any money that the district has managed to set aside in recent years.

School budgets are extremely complex documents and require audits to make sure everything is being calculated correctly. The district is still in the early stages of the audit for the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30.

The board was asked to approve what are called the unaudited actuals for the 201616 fiscal year, as well as a 2017-18 budget report. It was approved by a unanimous 5-0 vote.

The HUSD makes all of its financial information available on the district website at where anyone can review the numbers.

Trustees also approved a new contract with Superintendent Celso Ruiz by a 5-0 vote on Monday.

The next HUSD meeting will be on Monday, October at
6 p.m. in the district board room at Sixth and Chestnut.

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