Today, the State Auditor will outline their findings on the Sacramento City Unified School District’s fiscal condition to their Board of Education. It’s important that the district and community fully vet these significant and troubling findings. Their audit concluded the following:
- The school district irresponsibly approved a 2017 contract with our teachers they could not afford. Subsequently, they failed to make the promised budget cuts necessary to ensure a balanced budget. They have unfortunately used district reserves and one-time state budget allocations to offset the difference for the past 2 years, which is clearly unsustainable.
- There are no magic solutions to cover this imminent fiscal disaster, and tough decisions must be made promptly. While the teachers’ union has outlined some intriguing proposals to address the budget gap, the auditor confirms they appear unlikely to help, and may actually exacerbate the problem.
- The most promising solutions are renegotiating health benefits and utilizing these savings to fill the budget gap of $27 million.
I am in complete agreement with these findings and am hopeful the parties will negotiate through the collective bargaining process to forge a solution and prevent state receivership. Furthermore, I’m optimistic to hear negotiation dates have been selected.
I requested this audit last year to better understand the school district’s financial distress, outline solutions and prevent this from happening again. I’m also working on legislation to provide additional fiscal guardrails for school districts. I believe the Sacramento City School Board, labor partners and administrators can make the difficult decisions necessary to come to an agreement.