Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dianne Talarico announced at the January 18 School Board meeting that the financial discussion related to the tentative agreement with the teachers’ union had to be delayed due to the need to obtain more information.
According to the District staff report, SMMUSD made an agreement with the Financial Crisis and Management Assistant Team (FCMAT) to create “a multi-year financial projection of the District’s general fund” for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. This projection was needed because of concerns raised by the District’s Financial Oversight Committee and former Chief Financial Officer Winston Braham that the District’s budget would be unable to fund the five percent raise promised to the teachers in the tentative agreement.
However, Talarico explained to the Board that on January 11 she learned the preliminary draft of the projection was not valid. This was so because on that day both she and the Executive Director of FCMAT “were caught off guard” when they learned that on May 19, 2005 the District had negotiated an agreement with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to transfer $3 million from Fund 40 to Fund 17 to meet the State-required three percent reserve requirement for the 2005-2006 school year. The money in Fund 17 is supposed to be available for use at the discretion of the Board. This transfer would mean that $3 million of the $7.4 million in Fund 17 is “frozen and in suspense,” and therefore the numbers used to prepare the projection were inaccurate. She is in the process of speaking to LACOE about the agreement and is having FCMAT study “how to free up General Fund dollars” to meet the raise.
An AB1200 Public Disclosure form must be filed with LACOE 10 days ahead in order for the Board of Education to discuss the tentative agreement. The filing was delayed because of the problem with the projection, which will prevent the Board from discussing the agreement on February 1.
Teachers’ Union President Harry Keily responded to the delay by stressing that he has been “reassuring our membership as to the process and challenges and complications in putting together the financial documents” for the raise without a financial officer. Talarico mentioned that the contract to search for a new CFO has been signed and that an interim CFO will be hired as soon as possible.
The Board members had no questions or comments on the delay.
In other business, the Board approved unanimously the resumption of the District’s Facilities Master Plan process. The process was halted in June due to the recruitment of the new superintendent. The final phases of the process will include another community workshop, preparation and review by the Board of the Draft Facilities Master Plan and development of a strategy to implement the plan.