Schools’ Financial Reserves Appear Better Than Expected

According to an unaudited fiscal summary of the 2019-20 fiscal year, the South Pasadena Unified School District ended up with slightly larger financial reserves than it expected.
According to the report, the district this past year brought in $53.11 million in revenues, which funded $52.62 million in expenses. Thus the district was able to add $490,472 to its fund balances, bringing the total reserve amount to nearly $8.57 million. After having projected it would end the fiscal year with a 7.2% reserve, the district ended up with 7.5%.

David Lubs, assistant superintendent of business services, took the win knowing the district stands to encounter obstacles ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic, which after arriving in March turned budget projections into a lot of question marks.
“We ended up ending the 2019-20 school year pretty close to what we projected, even with the spring,” he told the SPUSD Board of Education this week. “We ended a little bit higher.”
Now, attention turns to the first interim report, which will summarize the first quarter of the fiscal year.
“That’s when we have our next multiyear projections,” Lubs explained. “We’ll have a very good idea by the end of October of what our additional expenses are with regards to distance learning and we hopefully will have some better indications on some things from the state.”
A formal audit will certify whether numbers presented this week remain accurate. School boards have until Sept. 15 to approve unaudited reports to be submitted to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
Though the district awaits updated forecasts, it already is accounting for diminished revenues on account of the pandemic. The current budget assumes $49.36 million in revenues for the year against $51.35 million in expenditures, which would necessitate dipping into the fund balances.
Additionally, the school board unanimously approved a contract to retrofit Monterey Hills Elementary School with LED lighting. The contract for $306,326 goes to Hallpass Capital, which previously performed the same work at other SPUSD schools.
Funding comes from the Measure SP bond, which was passed in 2016 to fund improvements to school buildings and infrastructure.
“I think it’s great that we’re doing this,” said board member Suzie Abajian, who made the motion to approve the contract. “We want to be a sustainable district and to conserve energy and also we want to save money. This hits both marks.”