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$267.8M budget is balanced for next three years

Manteca Unified School District board members will consider adopting a $267.8 million general fund budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 when they meet on Tuesday.

If it is adopted as presented, Manteca Unified is expected to be one of the few districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley that will meet the state requirement of having a balanced funding plan in place to cover the next three fiscal years.

The upcoming budget is $50.8 million lower than the current year general fund spending plan. The difference is attributed to a one-time 8 percent off salary schedule raise that went to all employees as well as one-time transfers to special reserve funds for debt payments and instructional materials.

The foundation of the balanced budget plan for the next three years are contracts negotiated with employee groups covering salaries and benefits. The contracts are simple, straightforward and transparent when it comes to compensation for the next three years: 85 percent of every 1 percent the state grants annually in cost of living increases (COLA) the school district receives that isn’t tied to a specially funded program will go toward employee salaries and benefits. That is the how much of the general fund has been historically committed for that purpose.

If Manteca Unified, for example receives a 3.46 percent COLA that brings in $6,516,827 in new and unrestricted cash, 85 percent or $5,539,303 would go to employee salary and benefit increases. That $5,539,303 would be divided among the five bargaining groups proportionately to what is set aside for employees in the unit in terms of salary and benefits.

Based on the May revise from the state for the school funding the COLA proposed for the California budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year of 3.26 percent, 85 percent of that COLA translates into $5,539,303. That broken down is $3,584,242 for the Manteca Educators Association, $1,290,525 for the California Schools Employee Association Unit 50, $72,509 for CSEA Unit 864, $178,214 for classified supervisors and administrators, and $413,813 for certificated administrators. That equates to a 2.94 percent increase on the adopted salary schedules for all bargaining units.

Based on the May revise for COLA payment from the state the district next fiscal year will spend $226.4 million from the general fund on salaries and benefits. That includes a 2.94 percent pay increase on salary schedules funded by the 3.26 percent COLA being paid by the state.

The 85 percent of 1 percent of state granted COLAs on unrestricted funds will mean employee groups as well as the district will know exactly what will be going to salaries and benefits. Only 15 percent of the MUSD general fund budget goes to non-salary and benefit costs.

It also assures the district will have the funding needed to support classrooms whether it is maintenance, energy, materials, and such as inflation goes up.

In addition it helps keep costs in line with anticipated state funding to allow the district to work toward having a balanced budget for the current year but also two years into the future as mandated by the state when they have no idea what funding the state will provide in the second and third year. 

And it does make the process transparent given the entire rationale behind a COLA is to keep a district — and teachers as well as other employees — even against inflation.

The district continues to face increasing retirement costs. The California State Teachers Retirement System last fiscal year required a 28.016 percent employer contribution that is expected to drop to 20.7 percent in the upcoming fiscal year. For staff covered under the California Public Employees Retirement System the employer contribution for the current fiscal year is 16.28 percent compared to 17.1 percent for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The budget assumes a number of key things:

The district will add 158 students annually for the next three years due to growth.

Manteca Unified has a slight increase in the number of students that are English learners, social-economically disadvantaged or foster youth. That number is now at 15,477 or 68.42 percent of all students.

The average daily attendance payment the state will receive for the year per student is $7,702 for kindergarten through third grade, $7,818 for fourth through sixth grades, $8,050 for seventh and eighth grades, and $9,329 for high school.

Negotiated class sizes are 24 students in kindergarten and 26 students in the first through third grades.

The school board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the district office, 2271 West Louise Avenue, Manteca.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email