The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees held a special meeting to discuss the district’s financial situation Sept. 13, and by all reports, the outlook is bright for the upcoming school year.
As of the meeting, revenues and expenditures for LASD funds had yet to be reviewed by an external auditor, and the audited financial statements will be presented to the board in January.
“The overarching theme was that last year was a very unusual year, obviously because of the pandemic,” Kenyon said. “That had a ripple effect on our finances, in a positive way, I might add.”
LASD reported significant revenue over expenses last year: $73.3 million in revenue compared to $66.3 million in expenditures. Some of the revenue came from COVID funding sources, and the district has yet to spend it.
The general fund had a net increase of $7 million, with the beginning balance totaling $4.5 million and the ending balance at $11.5 million.
Due to the pandemic, expenditure trends were different from previous years. In typical years, Kenyon said, LASD spends approximately 99% of what is budgeted; in June, the district had spent roughly 95% of what was projected.
Given the pandemic, it was difficult to accurately predict how the school year would play out. Health guidance changed, which meant LASD had to adjust according to public policy. The uncertainty led the district to budget conservatively to prepare for unanticipated expenses. LASD has benefited from savings in multiple areas, with COVID relief funds offsetting further expenses, Kenyon said.
Expenditures from the last year included certificated salaries, classified salaries, employee benefits, and books and supplies. Some expenditures were added with the prospect of the extra COVID funds in mind. The district adopted a conservative approach during the pandemic, which generated excess funds to cover such expenditures.
Tax revenues for the 2020-2021 school year totaled $52.9 million – a 7.33% increase from the previous year. Projected tax revenue for 2021-2022 is estimated at $54.9 million, a 4% increase.
Santa Clara County’s projection for LASD’s tax revenue is a bit higher – $55.5 million for the upcoming school year; the county will update its numbers in November. According to Kenyon, local property taxes are LASD’s largest source of revenue.