Sonoma

A:

Sonoma County school districts will have to shed an estimated $83 million of local reserves and operating funds when the first dollar goes into Proposition 2's School Account.  This will force the reduction of Sonoma County school districts' local funds from an average of 22% now, to just 6%.    

Compare these allowed carryovers with California Department of Education and Government Finance Officers Association recommendations of a MINIMUM of 15-17% in reserves -- and the state's late payments to schools in all recent fiscal years.  Sonoma County schools will be allowed to carry just $35 million forward.

Even more irrationally, the 11 community-funded ('basic-aid') districts would be forced to spend down $22 million of property taxes that they need for fall operations.  Property and parcel taxes are disbursed in April and December (when the semi-annual installments are paid by taxpayers).  So April's disbursement has to fund August, September, October and November expenditures.  These funds would have to borrowed, substituting debt service costs for instructional investments.

And, when the next downturn hits, Sonoma County's state-funded districts will have almost no cushion -- note that the State had not paid these Sonoma County districts $44 million it owed them in June 2012, $5 million in June 2013, and $6 million just this June 30th, a few months ago (incidentally, two fiscal years after Prop 30 passed).  

Note that four districts are shown in red because the California Department of Education qualified its certification of their financial condition during some or all of the 2012-2014 period.  Despite their challenged financial states, these districts will have to spend down $3 million of their ongoing operating funds when the state's school 'savings' account receives any deposits.

Sonoma County, like Marin next door, has a large proportion of small rural districts.  Across the state, small districts have tried to hold higher proportional reserves than large urban districts to buffer their children from single large expenses (a new schoolbus, seismic retrofit, etc.) since they do not have the staff to lobby Sacramento in person or negotiate extensive financing.

Sonoma County school boards have shown themselves to be financially prudent protectors of their districts' educational stability.  Local control of local reserves makes the only sense for Sonoma County's children.

Sonoma data table

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