Curbing Costs to Achieve Stability, Fund Important Student Resources

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Families know how budgeting works: You can only spend what you can afford. And if you pile up high-interest debt, you won’t be able to pay your bills.

The budgeting process for a large urban school district works in a similar fashion. Already faced with rising everyday costs (utilities, building maintenance, supplies, etc.) and the need to maintain a rainy-day fund, districts must be careful about taking on any new ongoing spending. The goal is, in fact, to save money that can be used to improve schools.

These are the goals of SCUSD’s negotiating team as well: Stabilize district finances; invest in schools; and invest in people by establishing SCUSD as a district that attracts and retains the very best teachers.

The district is projecting that the cost of health benefits will increase by $56 million by 2020-21, largely due to an unusual contract requirement that limits the district to dealing with just two health insurance companies.

If the district could instead save $56 million, that could fund smaller class sizes, more teachers, better teacher training, books and classroom supplies and more.