To Eliminate Budget Deficit And Protect Funding For Students, Sac City Unified Board of Education and Superintendent Call On Employees To Make “Shared Sacrifices”
The Sacramento City Unified School District announced in a video statement on Wednesday that it has managed to find millions in cost savings, with most cuts being made away from the classroom. However, Superintendent Aguilar and Board President Jessie Ryan warned that these cuts will not be enough to entirely address the district’s structural deficit. Both leaders called on district employees to rise to the occasion and make shared sacrifices to eliminate the structural budget deficit. Click here to watch the video statement.
Board of Education President Jessie Ryan indicated that ”While the Superintendent has gone as far as he can in reducing costs, we are now forced to look for other areas to save money. As Board President and mother of two children in our schools, I want to be very clear that the Board of Education will not approve a budget that hurts students. Our students did not cause this budget deficit and we will not balance the budget on their backs.”
All of the savings the district has found up to this point have been attained without any collective bargaining. However, to eliminate the district’s structural budget deficit, it must now reduce total costs to provide health benefits. The district will not be able to balance its budget in future years unless all employees are willing to make some concessions in the next round of contract negotiations. These negotiations are expected to begin immediately after the Board of Education voted on November 15, 2018 to give Superintendent Aguilar authority to begin bargaining with labor partners.
The district believes the largest potential costs savings would be achieved by shopping for more affordable health insurance plans for employees. Sac City Unified is currently, and has historically, spent significantly more on its employee health insurance costs than other school districts in the region. A cost savings estimate provided to the district by The CECHCR Project, shows Sac City Unified could achieve an estimated $11 million to $16 million per year in savings if all labor unions agree to join a health insurance pool that will provide employee benefits at a lower cost. CECHCR is an initiative of the non-profit Center for Collaborative Solutions that helps school districts and their unions work effectively together to save money and implement best practices in how they handle the complexity of health benefits issues.
“Our budget staff has worked very hard over the past few months with the assistance of an appointed fiscal advisor to achieve the maximum amount of cost savings that could be achieved without touching our existing labor agreements,” said Superintendent Aguilar. “We have reached the point where we cannot eliminate the structural deficit without bargaining. Protecting core academic programs and services for students will now require all of our labor partners to come to the bargaining table ready to make shared sacrifices. This is the only way we can balance the budget and avoid state takeover.”