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Manteca Unified could deplete reserves by 2021
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More than half of a projected $41.2 million in deficit spending the Manteca Unified is facing over the next thee years  will cover the increased cost of paying the district’s 1,200 teachers under their new contract.
To “tap the brakes” — that Superintendent Jason Messer has warned in the past year would be needed to keep spending in line with revenue and set aside reserves — Manteca Unified has:
uessentially eliminated 10 positions by not filling them.
uimposed a 20 percent budget reduction on all departments.
urequired all extra time must be approved by department heads.
uany money not spent at the end of the fiscal year on any budgeted item instead of being carried over as in the past will be swept into the general fund.
The gap between projected revenue and anticipated expenditures for the school year that just started translates into roughly $1,500 for each of the district’s 24,000 students. The district is dipping into reserves to balance its budget as per student expenses push $10,500 while the state is providing only $9,000 per student.
And if current revenue and expenditure models hold, the Manteca Unified School District could deplete its general fund reserves by more than two-thirds by the end of the 2019/20 school year.
What happens beyond that point is anybody’s guess.
According to a three-year economic model presented to the Board of Education Tuesday night by Chief Business Officer Jacqui Breitenbucher, the $62.2 million in general fund reserve the district currently holds will be depleted by $13.6 million by the end of the year based on expenditures. That trend of deficit spending will continue in the 2018/19 school year where the district will draw the reserve down another $13.5 million. That number will increase to $14.1 million needed to balance the budget in the 2019/20 school year – the same year that the district will cease to maintain 75 percent of one-month’s operating expenses in addition to a 3 percent mandated reserve.
The disclosure was part of the district’ 45-day revision of the annual budget approved by the board in July.
The depletion is softened by a series of cuts that the board approved Tuesday night when they accepted staff’s report that will eliminate the need to fill 10 full-time staff positions as well as half of the cost of a teacher on special assignment.
In order to offset increased expenditures – mainly, the adjusted personnel expense associated with the raise that that Manteca Educators Associated negotiated with the district – two vice principals, five teacher/librarians, two teachers and a behavioral specialist will not be hired as an attempt to curtail spending.
Those positon cuts would have been even deeper had the district not received one-time discretionary funding as well as an increase of nearly 100 students that contributes to the average daily attendance the district receives from the State of California.
According to Breitenbucher’s multi-year projections, the ending general fund balance would shrink from $62.2 million at the start of the current school year to $21 million by the end of the 2019/20 school year despite the fact that expenditures would only increase by $5.6 million across the 3-year span.
The teacher raises, which were accepted by the board on Tuesday night, will cost the district $3.52 million retroactively dating back to last year’s budget for the salary schedule alone, and an additional $4.7 million in the same column by the end of this school year when compared to what the district had forecasted prior to negotiations resulting in a settlement. Because of an increase in step and column percentage in the 2018/19 school year, the raise will cost the district an additional $6.17 million in salary schedule for a total compensation cost of $9,471,602 by the end of that school year.
Of the $41.2 million worth of deficit spending that the district is expected to do over the course of the next three years, $21.18 million of that will go towards the additional compensation for the roughly 1,200 Manteca Unified classroom teachers.
The board will revisit the budget throughout the year as additional funding sources are identified and expenditures for the district are adjusted.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.