What is your perspective on the current deficit spending pattern of CUSD?
The Coronado school system is one of our community’s crown jewels. CUSD consistently ranks as one of the top districts in the county and is a primary reason my husband and I chose to raise our children here. Maintaining the high quality of our schools is the most important task any of us can take on as a school board member. However, our current structural deficit and reliance on spending down our reserves to accommodate our unbalanced budget is an unsustainable model.
In order to maintain the excellence of our schools, we must act responsibly when it comes to limiting expenses, and we must be creative in increasing revenue. Achieving Basic Aid status, where we are not bound to the State’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and are able to retain revenue from our Coronado property taxes, will provide significantly increased revenue and, if properly managed, will provide a sustainable solution to our budget challenges. However, we are at least five years away from achieving Basic Aid status and prudence demands that we plan for an even longer “bridge” period, so we must take action in the short to medium term to ensure long-term success. Maintaining our reserve funds is essential to account for the volatility of state funding, unpredictability of state-mandated requirements, and to help us get through unforeseeable challenges (such as a global pandemic).
To compensate for our declining enrollment, we need to increase inter-district transfers to stabilize our enrollment numbers and increase revenue through the per-student funding rates provided under LCFF. We also need to look for creative ways to increase revenue. I believe that the partnership with the Navy to lease the ECDC is an excellent example this. Other options include seeking private and/or public grants to fund specific programs and expenses such as technology refreshes.
I value all of the programs offered by CUSD and I believe we have an incredible team of teachers and staff that are the foundation of our school system. Having worked in the non-profit sector for many years, I understand how to not only work with a limited budget, but to maintain and expand programs and services. As a school board trustee, I would exhaust every option for increasing revenue before I considered cutting programs, positions, or salaries.