OAKHURST — In a recent letter to the president of the Yosemite Unified School District Board of Trustees, the Madera County Superintendent of Schools (MCSOS) changed the certification of the district’s First Interim report for the current fiscal year to negative, assigned a fiscal adviser, and outlined requirements the district must follow in a timely manner, in order to recover from its broadening financial crisis.
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Based on a complete review of information provided by the district, the county office says the fiscal health of the district is suspect and the district is deemed to have risk of insolvency.
Information reviewed by the MCSOS includes the district’s multi-year projection and budget assumptions.
“MCSOS has determined that the district will be unable to meet its financial obligations for the current or subsequent fiscal year,” says the letter from Cecilia Massetti, Ed.D.
Without confidence in the district’s ability to budget effectively, and citing tremendous turnover in administrative positions including principals and directors, among other issues, MCSOS says the district is likely to deplete its cash balances by October, 2018.
Internal control procedures such as cash not being deposited in a timely manner, cash levels not being monitored, and lack of staff to complete routine banking tasks have all contributed to the risk. Meanwhile, says the county office, the cost to maintain external consultants, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) staff, and interim staff is neither sustainable nor manageable, and overall supervision is lacking.
MCSOS plans to take action to ensure that the district meets its financial obligations for the current and subsequent year, the letter notes.
The county plans to hold off on any action that is deemed inconsistent with the school district’s ability to meet its financial obligations, as well as helping the school board to develop a financial plan and budget.
MCSOS has assigned a fiscal advisor to work with district staff to improve the district’s financial condition. Ms. Jamie Perry will perform any or of all of the duties required of the MCSOS, a practice that will continue until the district is able to attain a qualified financial status.
The letter goes on to address the county’s various concerns, including standard business practices.
The county says the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office has proposed giving high priority to building strong reserves and eliminating debt.
“In YUSD’s case, without adequate reserves already in place, significant concerns exist about the district weathering any future uncertainty, as this is not factored into the already bleak [Multi-Year Projection] MYP.”
The county letter expresses dismay over budget preparation and documentation, turnover in superintendents, a long-vacant payroll position, and administrative staff turnover after the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent left the district in November. MCSOS notes that a Director of Special Projects was hired with no experience in accounting and a notable lack of fiscal experience, overall. The Director of Special Projects resigned in December.
Further concerns were that the district hired a consultant to close the 2016-17 financials, and the district and county together hired a consultant to complete the annual audit, Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) audit and First Interim report. New hires, vacant positions, a lack of negotiations with teacher and staff unions, declining enrollment, lack of planning, and oversight of the district’s two independent charter schools were also among the concerns of the MCSOS.
Specific action is required, by the time of the Second Interim Report, says the County Office of Education.
The district is required to update its MYP and provide the county with a report by Feb. 2, which should incorporate the most recent parameters in the governor’s budget, as well as any program changes or budget cuts that the district board has approved.
The report should also contain any current successfully negotiated contracts that affect this and future years, the county says. Only successfully negotiated contracts will be included on the report.
The county recommends that staffing, class sizes and class schedule options be reviewed by Jan. 31 to ensure reductions that lead to financial solvency. Before issuing any non-voter approved debt, the district must have the word of the County Office of Education that they could repay the debt.
The district must provide the county office with a copy of any study, report, evaluation or audit if the study contains evidence of financial impact or fiscal distress under the state standards and criteria.
Finally, the county reminds the district that the Second Interim Report must be filed with the County Office of Education no later than Mar. 15, 2018.
Here’s the complete letter. Click on images to enlarge.