This letter is in response to the article (“Approved BUSD budget depicts troubles” Aug. 26, 2013), indicating that the Barstow Unified School District’s approved budget “depicts troubles”, and that “outside projections show the district running out of cash flow in May and June 2014”.
While the State legislature can barely pass a budget on time for one year (and in the past has missed the deadline frequently), school districts are required to pass budgets on time for not only the current year but also for two years into the future. Since the State does not know what its income will be, it forces districts to use a variety of “assumptions” (sometimes cataclysmic in nature) making a district’s financial picture look much worse than it actually is. In addition, the State uses tricks and gimmicks to “balance” its budget, including pushing off into the future when it gives the district the money it owes.
For example, if the State owes the district its share of property taxes in May or June, it may not pay the district until after its new fiscal year begins in July. On paper the State has “balanced” its budget when in reality it has pushed its obligation to the district into the next fiscal year, making the State look good and the district look bad.
Although the school board has passed the 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016 budgets as required by law, the district still does not know how much money the State will be sending for the current year. The district’s budget is therefore a conservative guess based on worst case assumptions forced on it by an incompetent State and carried forward for three years.
The true financial picture becomes apparent at the end of the fiscal year when all the information is known. Even with the antics of the State and all the unknowns, Barstow Unified School District can meet all of its obligations for the current year and beyond.