The Sacramento City Unified School District’s budget has been disapproved because its costs exceed its revenues and it cannot financially sustain itself in future years. The District must now achieve $35 million in cuts and/or cost savings by June 2019 to balance the budget, meet the state’s minimum reserve requirement and save our schools from a state takeover. Click here to read the Sacramento County Office of Education’s August 2018 letter disapproving the district’s adopted budget and calling for more cuts. If the District does not make these cuts by June, it risks insolvency and state takeover. The District is currently projected to run out of cash by November 2019.
A December 2018 fiscal health risk analysis by the state’s Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) identified the source of the District’s fiscal challenges. FCMAT found that the District spends 91 percent of every dollar on employee benefits and salaries–6 percent more than the average for unified school districts in California.
To help identify where cost savings can be achieved, FCMAT instructed the District to identify outliers in its spending. One of the District’s biggest spending outliers and the area where significant cost savings can be achieved, is in the area of employee health care costs. Sac City Unified spends more per pupil to provide employee health benefits than any other school district in California. The District can save up to $16 million or more if all labor unions agree to switch employees to more affordable health plans that offer comparable benefits. To view how much more Sac City Unified spends on its employee health costs compared to surrounding school districts in the area, click here.
Currently, four out of five District labor unions have initiated contract negotiations with the District and formed a labor-management consortium (LMC) focused on reducing spending on benefits. The LMC is made up of SEIU 1021, United Professional Educators, Teamsters Local 150 and Classified Supervisors. Their goal is to work collaboratively with the District to reduce the 91 percent of every dollar spent on benefits and salaries by making shared sacrifices that will save our schools from a state takeover and protect funding for student needs. Leaders of the Sacramento City Teachers Association have not yet accepted the invitation to join the LMC. They have also not accepted a date to meet with the District to initiate contract negotiations. Superintendent Aguilar has asked for the SCTA to agree to a neutral facilitator to help mediate discussions.
Instead, SCTA leaders have submitted their cost savings ideas to the District. Their ideas rely in large part on making cuts to Central Office Administrators, an area where the District already spends significantly less of its general fund dollars compared to surrounding school districts. On February 14, 2019, County Superintendent Dave Gordon wrote a letter to SCTA leaders with an analysis of their cost savings ideas. Superintendent Gordon indicated that SCTA’s ideas would not generate the amount of savings that SCTA leaders have claimed. Click here to view Superintendent Gordon’s analysis of SCTA’s cost savings ideas.
The District will continue inviting leaders of SCTA to commence contract negotiations focused on saving our schools. Sign up below to receive the latest budget updates, and to view the archive of past budget updates.