Budget proposals and drive-thru graduation ceremonies were the topics of Redlands Unified's school board meeting on Tuesday, May 26.

The school board discussed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for education. The district is facing $19.3 million in potential cuts over two years with the state’s proposed budget.

“I want to make it clear that the final budget will be different from this proposal,” said Bernie Cavanagh, assistant superintendent of business services. “So much will change, and it is important to remember that there will be a fall revision because of the extended tax deadline of July 15.”

In terms of Proposition 98, which requires a minimum of the state budget to be used for K-12 education, the district is going back nearly five years in available funding.

In 2015, the governor’s budget included $69 billion in Proposition 98 funding. The governor's January budget listed $84 billion for the 2020-21 school year. After the pandemic, the number has dropped to $70.5 billion.

Cash deferrals for the 2020-21 school year are also worrying. Cash deferrals were used during the Great Recession to implement state-level budget cuts and improve the state’s cash position.

“For April, May and June of 2021, there is a proposed $5.3 cash deferral, which will create a cash flow problem for us and almost every other district,” said Cavanagh. “If this doesn't change, we will have to borrow money, so we need to save as much as possible.”

While the deferral avoids an additional cut in state revenues to schools, it pushes the administrative and financial burden of borrowing cash to local school agencies.

Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds will receive a 10 percent reduction in the state's proposed budget.

“Targeted Instructional Improvement Grants and Home-to-School Transportation will take a hit,” said Cavanagh.

California is proposing cutting 11 categorical programs in half to save $352.9 million. The cuts may be reversed if additional federal funds materialize. These programs include California Partnership Academies, the Adult Education Block Grant, Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program, after school education and safety and the K-12 Workforce Program.

The proposed budget revised the California Public Employees’ Retirement System 2020-21 contribution rate from 22.80 to 20.70 percent.

“This is a two percent relax that is taken out of the state’s general fund,” said Cavanagh. “It is money saved for the district.”

After the county’s public health order on Monday, May 25, drive-thru graduation ceremonies are allowed.

“We are excited to announce that our kids will have both a drive-thru ceremony and a virtual ceremony,” said Superintendent Mauricio Arellano.

Arellano said the district realizes there are still a lot of questions surrounding the 2020-21 school year and whether or not schools will reopen.

Tony Thurmond, California state superintendent of public instruction, told districts that guidance would come within the next few weeks.

“We are going to invite parents, teachers and students to share their concerns and considerations through the crowdsourcing platform Thoughtexchange,” said Arellano. “Feedback from the community is always important.”

RUSD drive-thru graduation ceremonies

Orangewood High School:

11 a.m., Wednesday, June 10, Citrus Valley High School

Redlands eAcademy:

5 p.m., Wednesday, June 10, Citrus Valley High School

Redlands Adult School:

6 p.m., Wednesday, June 10, Citrus Valley High School

Redlands High, Redlands East Valley & Citrus Valley High:

9 a.m., Thursday, June 11, at respective schools

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