February 5th, 2021
Dear FUSD Community,
There has been much to celebrate this year related to our FUSD staff overcoming many challenges to meet the needs of our students. On the other hand, there remains a heavy burden for our staff as we approach almost one year in a distance learning environment. We all have personal circumstances and professional obligations and this journey has not impacted everyone the same way. We may not all be in the same exact boat, but we are traveling through the same storm. Many thanks to each of you for showing up in-person, or virtually, to support your students, school sites, or the overall safety and function of FUSD.
I am so impressed by the work of our certificated staff, classified staff, and management team since my arrival. Due to the pandemic, not being able to meet most of you in person, or see you at your worksites/classrooms, has been a unique challenge as I do my best to serve each of you and our community. Given the limited chance to meet in person, or build meaningful relationships through shared experiences and in-person discussions, it gives me even greater pause to send this communication regarding budget reductions for the upcoming school year, 2021-2022. I apologize in advance for the length of this message. However, I believe the content is important and should be shared with our employees.
As I’ve shared in multiple newsletters and public forums, FUSD has a need to make significant budget reductions for the 2021-2022 school year. Based on our estimates from the “1st Interim” (the last formal progress report on our budget condition), we need to make roughly $17.5 million in reductions or corresponding revenue enhancements for 2021-2022 in order to maintain our minimum required reserves.
Recently, the Governor proposed his budget for the state of California for next year. The initial projections show an increase in revenue for FUSD. While we hope the Governor’s proposed budget improves our fiscal condition and allows us to lower our amount of reductions, FUSD won’t know the final state budget until the end of June, and we must make budget plans prior to that date. Specifically, the Alameda County Office of Education has provided FUSD formal notice that we must identify reductions, or corresponding revenue enhancements, of $17.5 million for the upcoming school year. Further, while the reductions would not take effect until the next school year, FUSD must notify the Alameda County Office of Education of how we will reach such reductions by February 25, 2021.
The Alameda County Office of Education is requiring FUSD to make such reduction plans and submit them to ensure that FUSD has taken all appropriate action so that we may be certain that our fiscal conditions for the following year meet all mandated requirements. If you’d like to review the letter provided to FUSD from the County Office of Education, you can find that here.
As we reach the third consecutive year of reductions, the impacts will regrettably be much more negative for our FUSD schools, students, staff, and community. On Wednesday, February 10th, during our regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting, I will share with the Board of Education a Budget Balancing Plan for the 2021-2022 instructional year. The plan will include a wide range of possible actions that can be taken to address our upcoming budget shortfalls. It is possible that budget conditions improve through this year and the full extent of these adjustments may not have to be realized. However, we won’t know those final budget conditions until May and June.
My goal in sending this letter is to help provide open and honest communication. I don’t take lightly any part of what I have listed in our Budget Balancing Plans. I’ve been through this difficult process in prior districts and have been on the receiving end of reductions at different points in my teaching and administrative career. It is not my expectation there is collective, or even individual, agreement with proposed reductions or enhancements. In this process, my intent is to ensure opportunities for input. Please review the information below on how you can be engaged in this discussion.
I recognize that each district has decisions to make regarding how and where to spend the money it receives. I also recognize that we may not share a universal agreement with how expenditures are made, or where recommendations are made for possible reductions. In preparation for the first formal discussion by our Board of Education on February 10, and to ensure our staff and community have a full review of these plans, they can be reviewed on the District website.
While I deeply regret that any member of our Fremont Unified School District may be impacted by this scenario, fiscal changes and challenges are sadly an unavoidable reality for public schools in California. I have faith that despite the pain of adjustments, we will find a way to remain successful for our students, and our community.
There are five different times and places you can use to provide feedback on the Budget Balancing Plans, please see those corresponding events below:
February 5th - Community/Staff Newsletter - Budget Balancing Plans will be published
February 10th - Board of Education Meeting - Budget Balancing Plans will be discussed
February 17th - Special Meeting of the Board - Budget balancing plans will be discussed
February 24th - Board of Education Meeting - Budget Balancing Plans discussed and finalized
As we move through these challenging conversations over the next month, I ask that we all remember and recognize that each employee of FUSD supports the education of our students. With that context, we recognize that such reductions, although a necessary course of action to address our fiscal condition, are not the desired outcome as it relates to the impacts on our students, our employees, and our community.
Fremont Unified School District