The Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District’s Financial Oversight Committee believes the district needs to reevaluate some of its ongoing services to meeting long-term financial goals.
The Board of Education met on July 19 to discuss the recommendations from the Financial Oversight Committee (FOC).
“FOC was formed to monitor and regulate the districts budget,” said FOC Chair, Joan Krenik. “Over time FOC has taken on additional duties like providing oversight on joint use agreement with both Santa Monica and Malibu.”
The FOC consists of 11 members this year the FOC formed three-sub committees to analyze/assist the budget, look at the sustainability principles of the district and provide analysis of district bonds.
Throughout the process the FOC compared SMMUSD to similar school districts and a member of each committee attended district meetings and all budget discussions.
“We spoke to several leaders in the district to get their feedback in areas of the budget that could be analyzed further,” said budget committee member, Alex Farivar.
The FOC presented the Board with recommendations regarding the district’s budget and said the district needs to consistently address its ongoing budget deficit position. The Committee said the Board should consider new procedures that could result in cost savings and look more in depth in areas like Education Services, HR, Business services and Contractor services as similar districts are spending less money in those areas.
Farivar recommended the district should adopt a deferred maintenance policy as a main priority and funds from a recent voter approved tax increase should be allocated to support their efforts.
As for sustainability, the FOC sustainability committee has been reviewing and discussing ways to enhance and encourage sustainability programs with an emphasis on water and power use.
Committee members directed the FOC and SMMUSD staff to develop a set of sustainability principles for the Board to consider for the upcoming year. Ideas included immediately implementing the SMMUSD water audit program, directing staff to create a process so individuals can provide input, and an annual report on sustainability efforts.
Carey Upton, SMMUSD Chief Operations Officer did reassure the Board, the district plans on creating a sustainability committee with multiple focuses to help the district move forward.
The bond subcommittee chaired by Gordon Lee, meets to discuss topics related to any type of financing the district is planning whether it involves the bond authorizations for Measure BB or ES or other contemplated district financing.
The FOC said the committee met to discuss the refunding of three series of Measure BB bonds, series A, B and C for a total financing amount of $80,990,000. Recently the committee discussed the issuance of $60,000,000 in new ES bond financing.
Recently members of the district traveled to San Francisco to present an overview of SMMUSD to the ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s. The successful outcome of the presentation awarded the district with a Moody’s upgraded Triple A rating. The district is now in a small group of 12 districts to hold this evaluation.
Lastly Krenik recommended the Board approve an addition to the FOC.
“A subcommittee should be formed to provide an in depth financial analysis of our health benefits offerings, evaluate comparable district benefit levels and identify potential cost savings,” said Krenik.
Boardmember Craig Foster said, “We accept the FOC with gratitude and their hard work. We accept their report of suggestions and charges.”
Any further recommendations and or actions will be discussed in the next school board meeting, August 9 at (1651 16th Street).