Why did you decide to run for the Coronado School Board and what qualities do you feel you offer the residents of Coronado?
My wife and I first visited Coronado to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in 2013. It was during this trip that we fell in love with this city and made it a goal to find a way to raise our children here and be a part of this incredible community. After spending many months “wintering” on the island over the past five years, my family and I were finally able to move to Coronado full-time last year. As a family, we highly value community engagement and education—and we continue to be impressed by Coronado’s strong sense of community and the quality of the schools. Since we moved here, however, I have come to understand the complex issues that schools on Coronado face. I was particularly concerned by the school district’s ability to continue to balance the budget in a way that would ensure continued funding for high quality education for our children. After taking the time to speak with members of the leadership team within CUSD, current CUSD School Board members, board members from the Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF), and other community leaders, I have come to realize that my background in business and accounting would be an important addition to the CUSD School Board.
Over the last couple of months I have come to learn that the budget for CUSD this year and future years are forecasting multi-million dollar deficits. Although this is alarming, the good news is that our funding formulas are set to change in 2026/2027 (Basic Aid) which should result in a multi-million dollar increase in funding. Some other good news is that we have operating reserves to help fund some of these deficits. Nevertheless, the reserves are currently forecasted to be depleted before we switch to Basic Aid. Moreover, it is possible for the laws to change in a way that can limit our access to Basic Aid. Given the current budgetary deficits, and the somewhat precarious future of our access to Basic Aid, I believe that it is imperative that we find a way to make our reserves last until Basic Aid comes and that we devise a viable contingency plan if Basic Aid is not available due to legislative change.
The significant financial deficits and their potential long-term repercussions for the students in our community, are a big reason why I’m running for CUSD School Board. I have two children that will be educated in CUSD and I’m keen to ensure that they and the other children in CUSD continue to receive a high-quality education during these dire financial times. As a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Senior Partner at KPMG, a global accounting and consulting firm, I am well-versed in working with diverse groups to solve complex financial and business issues. I have also been successful leading a large organization through major regulatory changes and global crises. Furthermore, during my tenure at KPMG, I spearheaded diversity and inclusion initiatives, experiences that will be particularly relevant as CUSD addresses similar concerns in the coming months and years.
I strongly believe that my financial and operational experience from the business world will be a major asset for CUSD. Furthermore, I would bring an important new perspective to the current School Board; and my ability to think “outside the box” to find creative and effective solutions will be particularly helpful during this critical time. I’ve spent countless hours looking for solutions to our financial problems and will be publishing my thoughts on my website, www.nickkato.com, and in this forum on October 21 (this issue is a topic that week for candidates to comment on).
I look forward to spending the next six weeks getting to know you, my friends and neighbors, and sharing my thoughts on how I can work with other members of the School Board, CUSD, CSF, and the community to find creative ways to solve key issues that will affect our schools and community for years to come.