Budgeting and intradistrict choice (IDC) will be the subject of the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board Zoom meeting May 6 at 6 p.m.
The board is awaiting a decision from the Senate Education Committee, which is currently considering a drafted bill to allow the 19 school districts that don’t have approved budgets to adopt a budget that matches their FY20 education spending levels, as well as an option that would add an additional 4% inflator to their FY20 budgets.
At the meeting on May 6, the board will discuss budget options for the HUUSD based on the latest information given from the Senate Education Committee. In their leadership report to the board, chair Caitlin Hollister and vice chair Torrey Smith urged the board to consider four factors that may impact the FY21 budget.
First, Hollister and Smith argued that current budget options penalize the 19 districts without approved budgets. The current statute allows school districts to borrow only up to 87% of their FY20 budget while pursuing budget revotes until an FY21 budget can be approved.
Second, Hollister and Smith urge the board to consider that the electorate has changed. Budgetless districts must now ask voters to approve budgets under dramatically different economic circumstances than those considered on Town Meeting Day, when the first budget was proposed.
Third, Hollister and Smith say that financing has changed. “Without approved budgets, the 19 districts in question may have difficulty borrowing funds at a reasonable rate, whether at the 87% level or 100% level of FY20 education spending,” said Hollister and Smith.
Finally, there is risk of a “clawback” if the board chooses an austere spending approach. If the 19 districts without a budget pass more financially conservative budgets this spring in response to COVID-19, those districts risk a financial double hit if an additional reduction is required down the road, said the leadership report.
In addition to discussing the school budget at the meeting, with these points in mind, the board will also discuss intradistrict choice (IDC), the policy that allows students to attend other schools in the district. If the board votes to pursue changes to the IDC policy at the meeting, the next step would be to ask the policy committee to work on the changes and bring back recommendations to the board.
Hollister and Smith hope that the budget and IDC discussion at the May 6 meeting will prepare the board to make a final decision regarding the budget at the board’s following meeting on May 13. “We hope that the board will have sufficient information by that time to take action on our FY21 budget, following this week’s board discussion,” they wrote.