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School Board addresses budget shortfall

Tehachapi School Board Update

The Tehachapi Unified School District began their 2020-21 school year on Aug. 12 with virtual learning. According to Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson, meal service will continue as before at all schools with pick-up between the hours of 6:45 and 8:45 a.m.

The TUSD School Board held their first official meeting of the school year on Aug. 11 with the most pressing items dealing with the $6 million deficit in the district budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the Board voted to eliminate the position of Director of Personnel as other staff members could fulfill those duties. This would save the district about $176,000 this year. The Superintendent also asked the Board to waive payment for the 16 days she worked above her contract. Reluctantly, the Board agreed. Trustee Rick Scott added that, to his knowledge, no certificated teachers have been laid off this year. This was confirmed by the Superintendent.

It fell to Business Services Chief Administrator Hojat Entezani to present the District’s revised budget. Each district must file a revised budget no later than 45 days after Governor Newsom signed the 2020-21 Budget and that deadline was Aug. 13.

Entezani explained that although the governor rescinded proposed budget cuts, the district will end up with over a $6 million deficit. Funds have been awarded from the Federal government to cover more than half that amount; however, those funds must be used for specific items.

The District was awarded $831,471 from the CARES ACT - ESSER to support a wide range of Coronavirus response activities and were to be available for the district to use between March 13, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2022. The District as yet has not received these funds.

The District was awarded COVID Response Funds in the amount of $70,538 to maintain nutrition services, cleaning and disinfecting facilities, personal protective equipment, and materials necessary to provide students with opportunities for distance learning. These funds were received in April 2020.

The District was also awarded Learning Loss Mitigation (LLM) funds in the amount of $2.55 Million. These funds come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER), Coronavirus Relief Fund (CR) and Proposition 98 Funds (GF). These funds must be used to supplement learning supports for specific learning needs such as technology, technology supplies and instructional support. Entezani said this would include the Chromebooks being used by all students. The majority of the funds are required to be spent by Dec. 30. The Distrct is required to front the money to be reimbursed later, creating a cash-flow problem.

Entezani suggested that the Board consider a TRAN (Tax Revenue Anticipation Note) to cover the shortfall. These short term, low interest loans are used specifically to borrow against expected state funds for cash-flow purposes. The Board voted its approval for the loan.

Paul Kaminski, who served as Interim Superintendent during the 2018/2019 school year, declared that he will be running for a seat on the TUSD Board of Trustees in the upcoming November election.

School Board meetings are usually held on the second Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The link to the meeting is posted online the day before the meeting at http://www.tehachapiusd.com/school-board-c8ac81b8. Download the agenda and enter the Zoom link at the time of the meeting.