Board Cuts Spending by $12.5 Million, Submits Balanced Budget
The West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education voted on Wednesday night to cut $12.5 million in expenses that eliminates its structural deficit and ensures the budget is balanced for the next three years.
The reductions include $5.5 million in savings from contracts and the elimination of 82.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, which include vacant positions that will not be filled.
“Reducing spending is never easy, especially when it comes to cutting jobs,” newly elected Board President Tom Panas said. “It is my desire to continue the difficult and challenging work staff has done to reduce any negative impacts our decision tonight may have on students while we continue to ensure the District’s fiscal health.”
The Board’s vote also mandated additional actions to mitigate the impact of the reductions on services to students. Those measures include closer scrutiny of District contracts to find additional savings, working with cities to find revenue for shared services and to explore adding an in-house attorney as a way to reduce legal costs.
“We worked very hard to increase compensation across the District and needed to work just as hard to balance our budget,” Superintendent Matt Duffy said. “All of the proposed reductions protect our core program, allowing us to focus and make progress on our Roadmap 2022 goals. While no cuts are easy and one can argue that there is some value in each of these services, we must make these hard decisions in order to meet our targets.”
The reductions were spurred by several factors, including compensation increases that will total $28 million through 2021, rising pension costs, and reduced revenue caused by decreased enrollment, lower share of the parcel tax due to charter school growth and the of certain state and federal funds.
The cuts include eliminating central funded graduate tutors ($3 million), the District’s contract with Playworks ($1.425 million), and reducing vacant central office positions ($1 million).