Jun 05

ASUD Budget Short Falls: What They Could Learn From Private Sector

ASUD budget number crunching provides an interesting glimpse. For most professionals, projections and budgets are closely monitored throughout a year. Wall Street does this quarterly and punishes or awards those firms by missing or blowing out these numbers. Anyone in sales knows the importance of forecasting and its direct impact to budgeting, projecting and revenue.

ASUD schools approach this process differently, waiting to the end of a fiscal year to look at, adjust and project numbers. Thus, their revenue also fluctuates in accordance. These fluctuations are partly because student populations fluctuate with the island population, Coast Guard personnel, the flight of families to alternative education options, etc. But it doesn’t have to be viewed this way because they reasonably know their revenue within a given year.

What many people do not know is the State provides a fixed dollar amount per student per day for attendance. (Over $100 per student per day in 2003. This is also a main reason why truancy hurts schools. The budget is directly impacted.) There is the revenue. Do the math: one student equals  ~$2,000/month, a class of 30 equals $60,000/month.

This brings up several topics beyond the scope of what will be discussed here, however, consider this set of conditions:

  • how many teachers are making $60,000/year?
  • a teacher’s salary is ‘paidout’/secured after 1-2 months (assuming 401k, health, benefits, etc.) Where is the other 8 months ~$480,000?
  • given certain expenses like school property mortgage, utilities, certain basic operational and local administrative, support, where is the breakeven point?

Now these calculations are only from one class of 30 students. A school with 10-15 classes is a sizeable revenue stream.

This is no different than private sector issues. In fact, the revenue is ‘fixed’ somewhat. Private sector doesn’t have this ‘safety net’. Prospective clients change their minds, decrease or shift their budget allocations and even move with a different proposal (company). Sales projections have to change accordingly, but these are manageable as they are weekly if not daily adjustments. Why does ASUD or schools in general ‘think differently’?

More frequent adjustments could disarm any school board outbursts, diffuse potential crisis situations and allow time for alternative plans to be formulated to either bridge short comings and weight alternative solutions. Also, it would alleviate any panic from families caught off-guard by the poor state of affairs.

But, following the money and a small or modest school bringing in ~$5,000,000 revenue to the district, it seems like better money management is in order. California is falling behind peer states.

Accordingly, the numbers don’t add up; either significant per pupil changes have occurred at the State level or it doesn’t pass the audit test. Neither the State information in the link above nor the ASUD figures tie back to one another. For example, per pupil expenditure by the graphs above are ~40/day. ASUD budget figures calculate ~10/day. More research is definitely needed to find out where the other $60 per student went and in dealing with government figures, is this the smoking gun to our educational woes?

Below is a post from Blogging Bayport Alameda giving us insight, through school numbers, as to how the 2013/2014 school year is shaping up. Of course, they uncovered this at the most recent school board meeting allowing a very short window of time to solve, amend or significantly influence the options.

Negative Percent

Last Tuesday’s School Board meeting there was an agenda item with recommended budgets by school site, the short summary is that most schools sites have cuts.

I put into a spreadsheet the numbers from last year’s budget and compared it to this year’s budget.  The stuff in the light pink is for 2013 and the blue compares this year’s numbers to last years:



I dropped into an Infogram the 2013 budget per student as well as the percentage of change in the 2012 number to the 2013 per pupil.  But for those that don’t want to click over I screen capped the screen that shows the percentage change between 2012 and 2013.

elementary high


There was some discussion about the projected population, mostly there was disagreement about the projected population of Wood Middle School for next year.   My next project will be to try to compare projected numbers for budgeting purposes and compare it with the actuals to see how accurate AUSD staff got it year by year.   I would imagine that after a few years, staff gets pretty good at predicting this sort of stuff, it would be interesting to show how close they actually get.