Sacramento City Unified Board of Education Approves 2018-19 School District Budget, Faces $24.3M Deficit

Press release

SACRAMENTO, CA – On Thursday night, the Sacramento City Unified Board of Education unanimously approved a $555.3 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. In recent years the district has been facing a number of significant cost increases to cover its obligations, including a state-mandated increase in the amount school districts have to pay for pension contributions administered by CalPERS and CalSTRS and rising health care costs. To balance the budget, the district projects it will need to spend $24.3 million from its reserves in the 2018-19 fiscal year. It also plans to make $4.2 million in cuts, including eliminating for next year its Expanded Learning Summer Program which had previously been launched earlier this week by Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. At the Board meeting, Superintendent Aguilar announced that the cuts were necessary because revenues in future years will not be sufficient to cover the district’s expenses.

“The district is forced to dip into its reserves to cover expenses,” said Aguilar who started as Superintendent in July 2017. “Now that I have had almost a year to see and understand our system, it is clear to me that our district faces significant fiscal challenges. We will begin addressing these challenges by making central office cuts, executing a hiring freeze and making other administrative cuts that will not impact the classroom. While I had hoped that the Board and I would be able to expand some of the very small investments we have made in recent months to promote an Equity, Access and Social Justice agenda for our students, unfortunately those investments will not increase significantly.”

Aguilar also stated that he would pursue an independent financial audit of the district.

Although Governor Jerry Brown signed a budget earlier this week which invests more money in schools, the increased PERS/STRS costs, as well as rising health care costs and other obligations, is contributing to a net loss in funding for the district. Governor Brown has warned that the next recession is around the corner and districts need to prepare for a slowdown. Large urban districts that have had to make significant reductions in their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year include Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified and San Francisco Unified.

“It breaks my heart that at a time when we need to invest in our students, we are grappling with these budget challenges,” said Board President Jessie Ryan in a prepared statement. “We need to invest more to close the achievement gap and address the needs of high risk students, but have been forced to make cuts in order to balance the budget. I look forward to engaging the community in the months ahead to begin laying out plans for how we work together to address the district’s fiscal challenges while continuing to protect funding for critical programs that our students need and deserve.

Click here to view the full budget presentation.