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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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March 10, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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March 10, 2010
 

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Feather River Bulletin PUSD budgeting raises concerns Mona Hill Staff Writer mhill@plumasnews.com Given the controversy and allegations flying between In- dian Valley residents and Plumas Unified School Dis- trict, this reporter consulted a out-of-district expert for an opinion on the district's fi- nances in general, the reserve fund in particular and the fu- ture of secondary education in the district. Our expert is a certified public accountant with a long career in K-14 education fi- nance and currently works at another California school dis- trict. School Services of Califor- nia is a well-known employ- ee-owned company that pro- vides "information services, legislative or government ad- vocacy, financial and busi- ness consulting, executive search, or innovative work- shops and training that are designed to help in solving problems and improving stu- dent performance." The company provides ser- vices related to executive searches, data, software and technology, lobbying, work- shops, and fiscal and man- agement consultation. Superintendent Glenn Har- ris and Director of Business Yvonne Bales frequently cite SSC's 2009 fiscal review as justification for the district's controversial special reserve fund, targeted for 45 percent by 2012. Bulket development School budgeting is a com- plex moving target. In June, when the budget is due, bud- geting is more of a crystal ball process -- not even the Legislature has decided how much money will be allocat- ed. Budgets are typically de- veloped based on historical data and trends in areas such as enrollment and finance discussions at the state level. By November, when school districts prepare their first interim budgets, called Pls, the picture should have re- solved somewhat, and the Pls should be revised to more accurately reflect that picture. Did enrollment go up, stay the same or go down? What did the Legisla- ture finally allocate? How much can a district expect in property taxes or revenue limit funding? The second interim budget, P2, is due March 15 of every school year. By that time, districts know how well en- rollment projections have held up and whether proper- ty taxes have increased or decreased. In addition, for each ver- sion of a district's budget through the year, the budget should be updated to reflect actual expenses and rev- enues as new information be- comes available. In its report, SSC rated the district's budget monitoring risk as high and noted the district has a "history of hav- ing unspent funds and carry- overs into the next year." That, said our expert, is like- ly how PUSD has built its re- serve. The SSC auditors recom- mendel the district use his- torical amounts and percent- ages to determine budgeted expenses. Our expert described the district's historical budget practice as "boy-who-cries- wolf" budgeting- paint a bleak picture of high expens- es and low revenue resulting in unspent funds at the end of the year that are used to build up reserves -- not good budgeting practice according -to our expert. For example, in its 2009 - 10 P1 report, the district's original budget projected a books and supplies expense of $650,110; actual expenses when the report was pre- pared in November 2009, to- taled $369,695, a little more than 50 percent of the budget- ed amount. However, year-end total ex- penses are projected to be $1,003,687, approximately triple the P1 actual expense. There are several examples of this type of anomaly. Our expert wondered what changed so dramatically to warrant such an increase. The state provides stan- dards or norms for calculat- ing those amounts and asks districts to explain variances outside those norms. Several of the district's explanations on the P1 indicate district personnel have a firm grasp on the district's situation -- declining enrollment and lower property tax revenues. However, the actual projec- tions seem to indicate wish- ful thinking on the district's part -- something Harris dis- puted. Further, the district's ex- planations seem to be contra- dictory, For example, the dis- trict used an enrollment-to- average-daily-attendance ra- tio to calculate future years' revenue because, "Our small rural county has been in de- clining enrollment for many years. With the recent clo- sure of the small log division of the local mill, we are pro- jecting an accelerated de- cline in enrollment over the next two years." That did not happen; fur- ther on the P1, the relevant note reads, "At budget adop- tion, we had expected a larg- er decline than we have seen. At time (sic) we are modify- ing our projections based on first week enrollment in our district. With the current state of the economy, uncer- tainty regarding the remain- ing mill operations, and See Budget, page 8A Cribbage benefit Cribbage players will raise money for the spring drama- works' production of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Fac- tory" with a tournament Thursday, March 11, at the Quin- cy Vet's Hall, 6:30 p.m. Cost is $20 per entry at the door or sign up online at stock.rick@gmail.com. The event includes a no-host bar. Last year's champion was Colin Dillingham. Rookie Darla DeRuiter scored a 20-point hand last year. Photo submitted AT THE GRAEAGLE LIGHTING COMPANY DISCOVER YOUR INDIVIDUAL STYLE. AN EXQUISITE LIGflTING SHOP offering quality lighting producls, tilting, co, Ira|ion, ! wall arl, design and custumer service lhel when combined, will reflect your lifle. * IN-HOUSE SERVICES AYAfIIIZ Iff MAOEIN mEE fmuring a selection of custom wood shutters, premium wood blinds, pleated and cellular shades, window shndis.ad sheers, and all lypes of flooring, such as hardvmd laminate, file and carpet, Visit our website for complete details of our services and produds. Starting January, closed Mon-Tue. Open Wed-Sun, 9:30 am- 4 pro. Wednesday, March 10, 2010 7A Principal's Message Sometimes I forget how exciting the world is. Fortunately, I have your kids here to remind me. My latest reminder didn't start out too exciting; it was the cry of, "Mr. Porter, I spilled my breakfast." There was a pool of milk and Coco Puffs spreading across the floor as the helpless child stood there, dripping a little and looking pretty helpless. I head- ed quickly for the mop in the closet by the stage. As I was squeezing the water out of the mop in the pail, I turned to see that the student had followed me. "Whoa!" he declared, "That's cool! I've never been in here before!" Yep, our mops and buckets are pretty exciting all right. Of course, that wasn't nearly as spectacular as the discovery another student made earlier this week. When she accompanied her mother to the market, she saw our secretary, Mrs. Mc- Colm, and cried out, "Mrs. McColm, I didn't know you go shopping!" Amazing, right? I told you the world is an ex- citing place. Sincerely, Shepard Kest Porter, Principal A Word from the Secretary Unfortunately, we have many students arriving to school late. All students should be at school prior to 8:15 a.m. When the first bell rings at 8:15, students are to walk to their classroom. The 8:20 a.m. bell rings to signify the start of school. At this time, students should be in their class- room seat ready to begin instruction. We appreciate your help in this matter. Thank you, Jennifer McColm, Secretary Calendar of Events Mar 12 K-6....End of Trimester Mar 18 K-2....Awards Assembly, 8:30-9:00 Mar 18 K-6....Report Cards Sent Home Mar 26 K-6....Springfest, 5:30-8:00 Apr I K-2....Open House, 6:00-7:00 Topper's TREE SERVICE Dave Sims Get your trees ready for the snow! Proper trimming now can help prevent a disaster/ ' OS:HCertifibd Crone Removal Fully Insured & Licensed Lic. Timber Oper. #A543 Ca. Lic. #678121 Public Scales 283-2194 Located in Quincy Greg Mierlot Rusty Robinson Larry Gustafson Robert Bolton John Gompf Pat Greenaway Wes Cannon Tim Waters 530- California Market Now Available Quincy From everyday collection to envzronmental v otectzon, Think Green*. think Waste Z00anagement. Feather River Disposal, Inc. 283-2065 Serving Quincy, Greenville, Chester/Lake Almanor Think Green: