Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has adopted its 2020-2021 budget but the board of education and district leaders are hoping some extra funding comes SMMUSD’s way from the state budget.

The district’s budget was approved with yes votes from board members Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Laurie Lieberman, Ralph Mechur, Maria Leon-Vazquez, Jon Kean and an abstention from member Oscar de la Torre. Prior to the vote, Melody Canady, SMMUSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Business and Fiscal Services, highlighted the key aspects of the budget in a presentation, which is available for the public to view online at the district’s website.

“As we were presenting these budgets to you in the last several weeks, we were being told that we should probably look at anywhere from a seven- to ten- percent decrease in the (Cost of Living Adjustment) from the state of California,” so the budget was crafted with the suggestion in mind, Canady said. “However, the state has come forward and said,” the COLA will remain flat, which is beneficial for districts like SMMUSD since it will provide more than a million dollars in additional revenue.

“Like I said, this is a good problem to actually have,” because it brings the district’s deficit heading into 2021-2022 down to almost $3.5 million instead of the previously projected $4.6 million, Canady added, before mentioning district staff will bring a budget back to the board in August so district stakeholders have a better understanding of the final tallies.

“And our ending fund balance — at this time with that 10% — is still looking like we’re coming out at about 8.4%,” which is slightly less than projections made in April, Canady said. “I would like to see that get up to 17% so we still have some work in front of us.”

Board president Kean said he really appreciated how the budget was presented with the anticipated revenues, even though they weren’t yet available.

“But there was talk of some reductions in STRs and PRS or maybe some special-ed funding coming in,” Kean said, asking if Canady expects the rumors to come to fruition this year.

“It’s too soon to speak to that,” according to Canady. But district staff does intend to bring forth a revised budget that includes updated information sometime in August, when stakeholders will also discuss how the legislature’s budget directly impacts SMMUSD.