TVUSD faces $14.3 million in budget shortfalls

Stephanie Lai and Paisley Trent

[email protected]

Temecula Valley Unified School District released a budget update in January forewarning that the district is heading toward a budget deficit of $14.3 million in two years. First confirmed at the Dec. 13, Board Meeting and based on the first interim budget report, the district will need to cut approximately $7 million per year from the budget over the next two years to end deficit spending.

Currently, 88 percent of the district’s operating budget funds 3,016 employees which equates to $247.3 million. Materials, supplies, services and other operating expenses cost about $32.5 million.

The district claims that changes made to the Local Control Funding Formula and Governor Brown’s general funding plan caused $13.8 million to be reallocated. Money previously slated as “Categoricals” – covering class size reduction, textbook, economic impact aid and deferred maintenance costs – were rolled into the District’s LCFF structured budget.

The state allocated budget is determined by unduplicated pupil percentage and according to the TVUSD website, “The UPP counts students for supplemental and concentration grants based on these factors: low income status, foster youth status and English language learner status. Districts with higher counts of students who qualify based on these factors receive more money through the LCFF.”

LCFF funding was cut for TVUSD because they have a smaller number of students that have low income, foster youth or English language learner statuses in comparison to the rest of California school district, placing them as the lowest priority for funding.

Such changes in budget structure also affected mandated requirements for school districts on items such as new textbook adoptions. The updated math textbook adoption itself is predicted to cost $5 million. In a newsletter sent out Jan. 9, the district explained that no new funding was provided for the textbooks but in order to keep pace with requirements, TVUSD utilized one-time funding received in the amount of $14 million to cover items such as textbook adoptions, common core implementation and technology.

However, funding cannot sustain future mandates. In a correspondence obtained by Valley News from the district to TVUSD employees, efforts to minimize impacts will entail suspending and reducing adoption of textbooks.

Some of the biggest increases in the coming years are due to pensions mandated by Governor Jerry Brown in the form of CalSTRS and CalPERS. Employee and employer contribution has skyrocketed in recent years, making up most the deficit, with the new costs outpacing new revenue being created in the district.

Within the next two school years, CalPERS employer contribution rates will increase over $2 million approximating a 4.8 percent increase in the budget from the current year. CalSTRS contribution rates will increase by $9.83 million with the 2018-2019 school year and is projected to increase to $41.6 million by 2020-2021.

Other factors such as Average Daily Attendance are also considered in the district budget. Coupled with TVUSD’s general education enrollment decline since the 2012-2013 school year, there are approximately 100 students less per year due to trends of fewer families entering the elementary schools. An absent student costs the district $55 per day, and as district effort, advertisements are broadcast to parents and students encouraging attendance as a cost-saving measure.

Another major contributor to the deficit is the Grade Span Adjustment, a state mandated program that works toward having a grade level average of 24:1 student teacher ratio in grades TK-3 by 2020-2021. This program costs the district about $1.2 million annually since 2012/13.

“We have very tight language that comes from the state from the LCFF in how we staff our TK to third grade classrooms, but you can bypass that requirement if you have language in your contract that states otherwise,” explained TVUSD Superintendent Timothy Ritter. “Many districts have language in their contracts that says that their TK-third grade classrooms can have as many as 32 students.”

The district has proposed a to cap of 26:1 with flexibility to 28 with extra compensation for those teachers. However, no additional changes will be made to class size, employee pay, compensation or benefits after negotiations with the Temecula Valley Educators Association did not reach a consensus.

Ritter said, on behalf of the District and School Board that “any changes made are done with a positive culture.”

Though TVEA claims that teachers are not opposed to buyback or furlough days, they want negotiations to be separate from ones that impact only the elementary school teachers. The potential measure of adding two furlough days or “buy back” days, in which teachers will be paid if they choose to attend staff development meetings, could save the district up to $1.2 million per day. While negotiations did not reach a consensus on furlough days, both parties, represented though TVEA President Jeff Kingsberg and Ritter, are open to revisiting the measure in the future.

In order sustain solvency, the District is working on reductions that don’t require negotiations to move forward. Listed in an email correspondence to all TVUSD employees March 3, these will involve notices to individuals with temporary certificated contracts, management, certificated and classified staff reduction, as necessary, 10 percent reductions in all department and school site budgets, certification and classifies staff attrition, leaves of absence, retirements, vacant positions remain unfilled, suspension of reduction of textbook adoptions and relations in professional development offerings and conference attendance.

Staff members impacted by any potential layoffs as a legal and precautionary measure, will be noticed March 15, with the District “hoping to rescind as many as possible, as quickly as possible” after March 30 through staff leaving by natural attrition, retirement and other vacancies.

At the Feb. 21 TVUSD Board meeting, various members from TVEA addressed their concerns during public comments. Kingsberg introduced the slated public speakers and questioned district actions.

“Most district fingers continue to point north at Sacramento for our crisis,” he said. “The facts are that increased STS costs apply to all California districts. Eighty-five percent or more of the budget comes from daily student attendance, clearly known to be flat or declining in this district, yet the number of TVUSD positions and employees have increased in the past few years.”

Lauren Davis argued for more transparency within the district.

“None of these reasons were unforeseen when determining the budget in past and future years, and thus should not be used to explain why we are in a budget shortfall moving forward,” she said. “It is simply unfair to ask teachers to work harder for more periods a day for less pay, furlough days due to poor decisions.”

Ritter said that no negotiations have been met as of the current time so no changes will currently be made to the structure of class sizes and number of classes as well as staff pay, benefit and compensation.

Lynn Breen, a 23-year educator with TVUSD, referenced the 5-0 school board vote for increasing management salaries by creating a six-step salary schedule.

“In April 2016, Management was placed on a step of their new salary schedule and then before waiting a year for a raise, management moved to the next step in July 2016, giving them another bump in salary,” Breen said. “For some an additional 4 percent, for Mr. Ritter this equated an additional $8,000 in just three months. At the Superintendent budget meeting Feb. 2, I asked was TVUSD aware of the budget shortfall of $14 million when they asked the district to go out and look at surrounding district salaries.”

Laura Boss, a spokeswoman for the district said the Board has a commitment to attracting and retaining the best employees at all levels of the organization.

“Last year, consistent with that commitment, a study was performed among like surrounding districts. The goal was to bring all employees to within 3 percent of the average among like districts.  Our teachers are currently within 1 percent.  The study realigned about 50 administrative positions including principals, high school AP’s, coordinators, directors and executive cabinet members. The total annual cost to realign these positions is approximately $250,000,” she said.

According to Ritter, the salary increases which are for all TVUSD employees and will automatically occur regardless of the situation, account for a $1.7 million annual expenditure for both classified and certificated staff members. The district’s current plan is trying to minimize the impact on staff and students alike.

“The District needs to be more clear, specific and transparent and able to lead by example with what they’re willing to do,” Kingsberg said.

The District has until June to finalize their operating budget for the following school year.

21 Responses to "TVUSD faces $14.3 million in budget shortfalls"

  1. Mike   March 9, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Even though TVUSD has declining enrollment, There has been a 29% increase in management (administrator) positions. Comparatively, there has been almost no increase in certificated (teacher) positions. In the words of Wild Bill, “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.”

    In the last few years, there have been over 35 Administrator positions created. All those positions were justified because of “growth.” Now that the numbers are out, there has been absolutely no growth and these 35 Administrative positions are costing TVUSD almost 5 million dollars!

    TVUSD leadership is corrupt and inept. New leadership is needed.

    • Sports Guy   March 10, 2017 at 9:50 am

      TVUSD always cries the poor card and that we do not get enough funding, boo hoo. The reality is they over spend. We are constantly told about decreasing enrollment and yet when you look at the new positions in the Board minutes, they are usually do to growth. How does that make sense?

      Murrieta takes a lot of TVUSD transfer students because they do not make excuses and support athletics and the arts, unlike TVUSD.

      Incompetence in TVUSD is running wild and new leadership is definitely what we need.

  2. Mike   March 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    TVUSD needs to take responsibility for this self induced financial crisis. TVUSD likes to blame the new funding model, or blame the rising cost of retirement, or blame UPP students. Seriously??? The fact is that every district in the entire state uses the same funding model and pays the same amount in retirement costs. ONLY 3% of all district are in a deficit. The reason for that is simple. THEY OVERSPENT! Unfortunately, TVUSD is in a defici not because they overspent on teachers. No they over spent in the district office and on specialists! Plain and simple, when you have 30 directors (that each have an administrative assistant). And those assistants have an assistant, and that assistant has an assistant… that assist someone else… You have a crisis. Shame on Dim Ritter and Kristi Rats Robbing. I smell a big rat in TVUSD and it stinks like dung stuck in a RUT!

  3. Joe B.   March 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    TVUSD needs to take responsibility for this self induced financial crisis. TVUSD likes to blame the new funding model, or blame the rising cost of retirement, or blame UPP students. Seriously??? The fact is that every district in the entire state uses the same funding model and pays the same amount in retirement costs. ONLY 3% of all district are in a deficit. The reason for that is simple. THEY OVERSPENT! Unfortunately, TVUSD is in a defici not because they overspent on teachers. No they over spent in the district office and on specialists! Plain and simple, when you have 30 directors (that each have an administrative assistant). And those assistants have an assistant, and that assistant has an assistant… that assist someone else… You have a crisis. Shame on Dim Ritter and Kristi Rats Robbing. I smell a big rat in TVUSD and it stinks like dung stuck in a RUT!

  4. Rob   March 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Complete agreement with the earlier replies. Also, it’s important to note some important factual errors in the article. First, TVUSD’s LCFF funding has not been “cut drastically.” Second, it is not correct that all employees automatically receive a raise each year. I’m sure that all employees would love to receive a raise each year, but right now the only veteran employees that receive a raise each year are the superintendent and assistant superintendents under the new executive salary schedule championed by Kristi Rutz-Robbins.
    When you are being outperformed by 97% of your peers, you need to take a hard look at the person in the mirror.

    • Kim Harris   March 10, 2017 at 9:36 am

      That information came from the district, but I removed the word “drastically” from the statement. KH

    • Concerned   March 10, 2017 at 9:56 am

      LCAP funding has increased for the past 3 years and will increase next year and yet TVUSD will continue to make funding excuses. Kim Harris, will you please look into our LCAP plan to see if our funding is being cut? You can gather that information from the Director of Assessment and Accountibility or from the Asst Super of ESS.

      TVUSD loves to skew the data and dodge the tough questions.

      • Kim Harris   March 10, 2017 at 9:58 am

        Will do, Thanks! KH

  5. temec teach   March 9, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    TVUSD has great teachers and students. Unfortunately, the district leadership is lacking. Poor fiscal management and a lack of accepting responsibility has left a sour taste for employees.
    The Superintendent is not assured a term of service for their convenience or to pump up their over inflated salary and pension, yet they serve at the will of the board who represents the community.
    When will the board show some courage and clean house at the top? The district needs fresh , new outside leadership that will allow the teacher and student talent to shine.
    There has been a lack of accountability with the tendency to blame the state rather than adjust your hiring and spending.

  6. Nuff Said   March 9, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    How can any employee for TVUSD have any confidence in leadership? Leadership creates the budget and the elected officials approve the budget. The district has known for years that they have had flat or declining enrollment, yet over the past two years they created 60 new positions, therefore causing a financial crisis!

    A complete overhaul needs to be had starting at the top. Perhaps a recall of Board members? Ritter needs to go along with many of his cronies at the District Office!!! These fat cats have gotten away with foolishly playing Monolply spending tax payer dollars!

    These fools need to stop pointing fingers everywhere else except themselves! Be leaders or step aside. Many wish they would… step aside, that is. Fed up!!!

  7. Disappointed Teacher   March 9, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    One of the major problems is that TVUSD Local Control Accountability Pla n(LCAP) is greatly flawed. They created over 30 teacher positions over the past 3 years and most of these positions do not directly instruct TVUSD students. Parents and teachers were not included in the creation of these parents and yet TVUSD wants to play the blame game and make excuses for the poor decision making of its Administration.

    The school Board is also to blame because they signed off on the plan and according to one of the Board member’s comments at the last the board meeting was that they have full confidence in Mr Ritter. Why do they have full confidence in a Superintendent who has put us in a financial crisis? 54.6 teachers will be notified om 3/15 that they may not be returning next year to teach TVUSD because of a poor mismanagement of funds, resources, and just plain poor decision making. I do not have the same confidence as our elected Board members who have allowed this to happen. Two other Board members said they were “excited” to be a part of the collaboration that will be going on between TVUSD and the school Board. What is exciting about talking about how many people need to be let go so that we can balance the budget. Another Board member mentioned that they feel that there is an “Us vs Them” feeling that has been created between TVUSD/Board and TVEA to which Mr Ritter answered that he was dumbfounded as to how this could have been created.

    Next year will be more of the same so be prepared Temecula. The worst part is that the District is hoping to balance the books by 2018-2019 and will probably give the large group TVUSD Administrators, who are looking to retire then, a golden handshake for all of the years of their great service, when in reality all they did is create unnecessary stress and fear in teachers not to mention the 100 plus employees who were let go and by that time will be forgotten by many except those of us who are standing in the gap for them and trying to hold those responsible for this crisis accountable.

    Does anyone know why we never read this type of story in Murrieta and yet it is repeated over and over in Temecula?

    • Kim Harris   March 10, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Murrieta has not had budget issues in the recent past since I have been editor. Their budgets are the next ones we will be looking at so please keep an eye out for them. KH

    • Nuff Said   March 10, 2017 at 9:54 am

      TVUSD has actually created 60 new positions over the last two years! TVUSD receives less LCFF supplemental funds than any surrounding district, yet they went hog wild on a hiring spree. Hemet, who receives a much larger amount of LCFF dollars based on their Unduplicated Pupil Percentages, only hired half the amount of personnel compared to TVUSD. Hope this is a wake up call to the voters of Temecula! Most of us would NEVER run a household budget in deficit spending. Why are citizens allowing elected Board members to run TVUSD in this fashion? Perhaps a recall is in order!

  8. The Grass is Greener over there   March 10, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Meanwhile this is the type of headlines Murrieta Valley USD gets…
    The only problem with their article is I wish they would have shown how many Administrative positions they have.

    • Kim Harris   March 10, 2017 at 9:27 am

      I think the difference between the two stories is that TVUSD is facing a budget crisis, MVUSD at the time the referenced story was written was not. We are looking at MVUSD budgets for the coming year next. KH

      • No confidence   March 10, 2017 at 10:05 am

        Murrieta is a fiscally sound running district. They do not play all of the mind games and use the fear tactics that TVUSD does. I know because I have a lot of friends who work in Murrieta and they all speak highly of Pat Kelley because he treats them with respect and shows how much he values them by rewarding them with decent contracts and benefits. He does not blame the state for a lack of funding or STRS, PERS, etc…He keeps MVUSD out of the newspaper, meanwhile we constantly are dealing dealing with scandals and poor Administrative decision making.

        • Kim Harris   March 10, 2017 at 10:09 am

          My kids are all products of MVUSD, never had a problem with them. I would imagine there will be a budget story, as there should be, but I don’t expect to see a shortfall there.

  9. Mario Romo   March 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Ditto to all the replies! I too believe that the 29%that the Board allowed,should be the first in line to cut, That would take care of most of the TVUSD Defecit! The rest has been foolish spending

    • Dumbfounded   March 10, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Wait a minute Mario, do you mean to say that spending $45 K to replace the door to Mr Ritter’s building was a foolish expense? How dare you! Funny thing is the Board thought that must have been the going rate because they approved the expenditure.

      Unless that office building has a vault full of cash, I am not sure that was a wise expense.

  10. Angry and Tired   March 10, 2017 at 11:13 am

    TVUSD is in a financial crisis! Yet, the only reduction list of positions I have seen are the CERTIFICATED Positions. If this is a DISTRICT crisis…then let’s see the lists for Classified, Administrative, and District positions that are being eliminated….I don’t trust District talk, I want to see it in writing!! It should be ALL FOR ONE, not one for all!

  11. SHAFT   March 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm



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