The Morning Report
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As San Diego Unified’s revenues rose in recent years, so did expenses — often at a faster rate.
Statewide tax increases on the wealthy and a change in public school funding sent more money to San Diego Unified, district budget records show. But general fund expenses have exceeded revenues in all but one of the last four years.
Notably, general fund revenues jumped from less than $1.03 billion in 2012-13 to $1.2 billion in 2014-15 and continued to climb, nearing $1.3 billion this year. That’s an increase of more than $267 million in four years, or 26 percent.
At the same time, general fund expenses rose $318 million, peaking this year at more than $1.39 billion. That’s 30 percent higher than the $1 billion officials spent four years ago.
Here’s how it has looked over the last 10 years.
To pay the bills, the district leaned heavily on its reserve fund, draining it to minimum levels required by the state.
Officials expect student attendance to continue to decline and state funding to plateau, so trustees must now trim $116.6 million from next year’s budget to remain solvent.
Among other things, staff plans to propose an unspecified number of “strategic layoffs” and a reorganization of the district office Tuesday night, board documents show.
The district’s interim chief financial officer cites rising employee benefit costs, and pension costs particularly, as a factor driving San Diego Unified’s rising expenses.
The district spent less than $46 million on contributions to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System in 2007-08. This year, records show the cost will exceed $123 million, and district contributions will continue to rise in the coming years.
Trustees have also doled out pay raises, which increase pension costs. The board awarded 4-percent raises across the board just last month.