Beverly Hills Unified School District officials said this week that the 2010-11 school year ended with a surplus of $2.5 million from its $52.7 million budget, about $700,000 more than what was originally projected.
The $2.5 million surplus, plus the $3.2 million in cash reserves BHUSD had at the end of the 2009-10 school year, gives the district a total of $5.7 million in reserves. This translates into a cash reserve of 10.7 percent of the BHUSD’s budget, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Alex Cherniss said at the Tuesday Board of Education meeting.
The size of the reserve has more than tripled in the last two years. Educational authorities generally recommend that districts such as BHUSD hold reserves of 10 percent because of fluctuating property tax revenue. Basic aid districts get most of their funding from property tax revenue, rather than the per-pupil amount from the state that most districts receive.
The extra $700,000 came from a variety of sources, Cherniss said, including:
- $360,000 reimbursement from the state for remediation of an underground source tank at El Rodeo
- $185,000 in deferred funding for “beginning teacher support”
- $80,000 in class-size reduction funds
The 130-page budget can be downloaded here.
Board Vice President Brian Goldberg said the improvement in district finances came after hard-won battles to end losses from the adult education program and school food services.
“How much are you budgeting for losses from adult ed this year?” Goldberg asked Cherniss. He answered zero. Goldberg asked the same question about the school lunch program and Cherniss again answered zero.
Before in June, the BHUSD had been projecting program losses of $120,000 to $180,000. The district had also been from providing school lunch services. The BHSUD has since hired food services contractor to run the lunch program.
The budget news drew praise from the Beverly Hills Educational Association, the city’s main teachers’ union.
“The multimillion dollar, double-digit percentage reserves shown in the latest BHUSD budget represent the confluence of three things: strategic decision-making; mutual trust among bargaining unit representatives, the administration and the board; and a willingness to put medium-term and long-term goals ahead of short-term desires,” BHEA representative Chris Bushée told the school board.
Still Bushée, who spends much of his time in Sacramento representing the BHEA, warned about an uncertain future.
“…[W]e are extremely cautious regarding the current economic situation of the state of California and are doing everything we can to anticipate further reductions in revenue from the state and potentially from our property tax revenue,” he said.
Cherniss told Patch that the BHUSD plans to continue to be conservative in its fiscal planning.
”As a basic aid district, we are subject to fluctuations in property tax and we are susceptible to midyear budget cuts from the state,” he said. ”We must proceed with caution in these uncertain economic times.”