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Frequently Asked Questions about the Budget

SFUSD's Budget for 2015-16

The good news is, with the state’s economy recovering, we are starting to see funding levels from the state begin to return to a level that covers the costs of running a school district. Also this year, we are receiving some one-time bumps in funding that we are putting to use.

However, because we were underfunded during the seven-year recession, the increase and “bumps” only begin to return us to adequate funding from the state.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 2015-16 Budget

What is the budget picture for next year?

The district's unrestricted revenues are projected to increase by about $63.6 million for the 2015-2016 school year.

This increase is mostly due to an increase in funds from the Locally Controlled Funding Formula (LCFF), which is the way California now funds school districts. It also is due to one-time reimbursements for from the state for things SFUSD was required to pay for without funding over the last several years. Read more about LCFF and Local Control Funding (LCAP).

What is the LCAP, and how does it influence the budget?

The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is the way the state requires school districts to determine how to budget the funds received from the state. Much like how SFUSD has been structuring its process for several years, the LCAP requires significant parent and community input, students with the most needs bring more funds to the schools they attend, and the effectiveness of each LCAP plan must be reviewed on a regular basis.

How are SFUSD's unrestricted funds being allocated?

The biggest proposed increases in expenditures are for:

Salary and benefit cost increases are the result of negotiations with our unions, as well as the state’s requirement to increase our contribution to the teachers' retirement fund, CalSTRS.

In addition, there are increases in required contributions to special education, early education, county office costs, and facilities maintenance. Other proposed increases include centrally-managed supports to schools (the Multi-Tiered System of Supports, or MTSS) and other priorities to be determined that follow SFUSD’s strategic plan.

Why are some school budgets lower next year than this year, even though SFUSD's budget is increasing?

School budget factors include: enrollment, which includes additional Weighted Student Formula funding for low-income youth and English learners, and school needs, which allocates resources based on student needs via our Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Therefore, your school’s budget could decrease if:

  • Your school’s enrollment is expected to decrease for next year
  • The number of high-needs students has decreased at your school
  • Your school is moving to a different level of need for Multi-Tiered System of Supports from Pupil Services

In addition, some short-term sources of funding like the Quality Education Improvement Act are ending as planned. This reduces budgets for schools that previously utilized those resources. Schools have known that these funds were short term and that SFUSD does not have the resources to replace them.

Why does the district hold money in reserve?

California state law requires that every school district of our size holds at least 2% of its overall general fund budget in an unrestricted reserve, and the amount varies by district size. SFUSD also holds some additional money in reserve (Undesignated Fund Balance) to help streamline cash flows from year to year. This helps to stabilize the district’s budget and support more predictability and better planning.

For 2015-16, the Designated Fund Balance is increasing slightly because of the increased overall budget. We are also increasing our Undesignated Fund Balance because we expect our expenses will exceed our revenues in the 2016-17 school year, due to salary increases.

Read the entire proposed 2015-16 budget.

General Questions about the SFUSD Budget

How is the SFUSD budget determined?

Each year the superintendent seeks feedback from schools, district departments, the unions and the community. Using this input the district develops a budget proposal based on the amount of funding we can expect from the State and other sources. The Board of Education reviews the proposal, and, ultimately, the Board decides whether or not to approve or amend it. This is true for all California school districts.

Are some schools within the district funded differently than others? Why? How is this determined?

Schools get most of their funding through a budget system called the Weighted Student Formula. With this system, a school receives funding based on the specific characteristics of the students who attend that school. This is done because we know that some students have circumstances that pose unique challenges for their academic success, so we send extra funding to their schools to better support them. For example, a student from a low-income household who qualifies for free lunch or a student who is an English learner would carry extra funding to a school site. From there, the school community develops its own budget to best serve the needs of its specific students.

What happens to the money that doesn't go directly to the school site budgets?

Some of the money supports the basic operations of the district like human resources or accounting services. But a significant portion of the central budget supports staff that work at schools. For example, the cost of custodians is budgeted centrally, but custodians work at school sites and are a part of school communities. The same is true for student nutrition workers, after-school coordinators and school nurses. Some of these staff members serve multiple schools, so it makes more sense for them to be paid by a central budget rather than across multiple school budgets.

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