Overview

On October 12, 2022, the Board of Directors received a presentation by Sherwood School District leadership on the financial status of the District in the 2022-23 school year. In this presentation, the new Superintendent and new Chief Financial Officer shared findings from a thorough examination of District financial accounting practices that occurred during their first 100 days in their respective roles; these findings were also verified by third party consultants with extensive expertise in school district financial practices.

As a result of this review, it was determined that factors including overestimation of State School Fund revenues, declining enrollment, and ineffective financial reporting and account practices have lead to a significant budget deficit for the District. In order to correct this issue, the District immediately to measures to reduce spending, and on October 12th leadership shared with the Board the need to make a remaining $2.2 million in budget reductions for the current year’s budget, with additional reductions to be identified in the 2023-24 school year and beyond.

UPDATE (Nov. 10) – Budget Reductions & Furlough Dates

On November 9, 2022, District leadership presented to the Board of Directors a list of budget reductions identified through a collaborative process between administrators and staff associations. These reductions, when combined with a proposal of three furlough days, met the reduction goal of $2.2million previously identified on October 12.

Following the District’s presentation, the Board voted to adopt the following three staff furlough dates:

  • March 24, 2023 (Friday before Spring Break)
  • June 15-16, 2023 (End of school year)

Approval of these dates also includes the following adjustments to the 2022-23 academic calendar:

  • Trimester 2 last day will change from Thursday, March 16 to Friday, March 10
  • Staff work day will change from Friday, March 17 to Monday, March 13
  • Last day of school for K-11 students will move from Thursday, June 15 to Tuesday, June 13
  • Staff work day will change from Friday, June 16 to Wednesday, June 14
  • Spring conferences will be canceled. Conference dates at elementary (May 11-12) and at middle school (April 14) will become full school days.
  • In the event that we have inclement weather school closures this year, we may use identified furlough dates as our weather “make up” days.

For the full 2022-23 academic calendar reflecting these adjustments, please click here.

To view the November 9 presentation to the Board with full details of the District’s budget reduction strategies, please see the below video of that meeting (the budget presentation begins at approximately the 1:18:45 minute mark in the video). For a PDF of the budget reduction plan presentation, please click here.

October 12, 2022 – Board Meeting Presentation on Budget

To view the October 12 presentation to the Board in full detail, please see the below video of that meeting (the budget presentation begins at approximately the 30:00 minute mark in the video).

Third-Party Financial Review Report

To verify the findings of the District’s own financial accounting review, District leadership engaged A & C School Business Consulting in providing a third-party review, including a comprehensive report on findings and recommendations on next steps. Please click the link below to view the full Financial Review Report submitted by A & C School Business Consulting.

*Please note: On page 5 of the consultant report, there is a chart showing the position of Special Revenue 200 funds. The negative balances within the chart are reflective of accounting procedures and not actual services provided to students.

Parent & Community Listening Sessions

The Superintendent previously held Parent & Community Listening Sessions on October 19 and November 1 on the topic of the budget deficit. Future listening session dates will be posted here as they are scheduled, as well as shared via school and district communications

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the timeline in which the District discovered this issue, and when will reductions be identified & implemented?  

  • July 1-August 15 – Budget and accounting identified by fiscal team and new CFO, leading to review of prior accounting practices
  • August 15-Strategic pause in spending and hiring while analysis of budget conducted; multiple positions not re-hired
  • August 15-September 30 – Third-party consultants brought in by District to review financial reports and verify overestimation of revenues; need for mid-year reductions confirmed by consultant report
  • September 30-October 11 – Availability of one-time funds analyzed and applied to reduce overall mid-year reduction to $2.2M 
  • October 12 – Presentation to Board of Directors announcing need for $2.2M remaining reduction for the 2022-23 budget
  • October 13 & 17 – Meetings with employees held District-wide
  • October 18 – District administrators and employee association leadership teams meet to begin identification of $2.2M in reductions
  • October 19 – Parent/Community listening session held 
  • October 25 – School principals and department directors meet to refine reduction proposal
  • October 26 – District leadership meets with employee association leadership teams to review reduction proposal
  • October 27-November 8 – Reduction proposal finalized & furlough days negotiated with employee associations
  • November 9 – Board of Directors meeting – Presentation of reduction proposal and approval of furlough day calendar changes by Board
  • November 18-December 5 – Reductions implemented according to bargaining agreements

How is the District pursuing accountability for those responsible for the budget errors identified?

While the District has found no evidence of criminal activity or intent, to ensure we investigate this matter with due diligence we have been in contact with both law enforcement and legal counsel regarding any additional investigative or litigative steps that should be taken, and will closely follow the guidance of those third parties moving forward. Due to the nature of these legal investigations, the District is unable to comment on any details related to these processes.

How will the District ensure this does not happen again?

The District will be thoroughly reviewing the recommendations provided by A & C School Business Consulting regarding the staffing, accounting practices, and reporting methods of the Fiscal Services Department, and making appropriate changes based on those reductions to increase redundancy and “double check” mechanisms. 

The report provided by the third-party consultants noted some Special Revenue fund accounts had negative balances. Is that where the deficit is coming from?

Some District programs must be supplemented by the General Fund, as those programs do not generate enough revenue independently to be sustainable without the inclusion of general operations funds in their budgets. Such programs include Nutrition Services and Athletics, as seen on the third-party consultant report. The negative balances in those Special Revenue accounts was due to a failure in accounting to complete the transfer of General Fund dollars into those accounts, and was not reflective of those programs spending beyond their budgets. In fact, all spending across schools and departments district-wide was within allocated budget amounts — the issue is that the amounts allocated were based on inaccurate revenue projections, NOT that any staff members or programs spent more than their allocated budget amounts.

Are all bond funds and grant funds accounted for? How is the District certain that bond funds have not been used inappropriately?

The budget deficit identified impacts the General Fund accounts, which are managed separately from grant and bond funds. All grant and bond fund accounts have been reviewed by our third-party expert consultants, and have been confirmed as in good standing with no deficits or accounting issues. Additionally, during the construction phase of the 2016 Capital Improvement Bond, all bond funds were managed by Cornerstone Management, who provided additional redundancy in the accounting of the bond funds. 

Is there a plan for the number of furlough days/number of staff positions that will be cut?

The District’s reduction plan was shared with and approved by the Board of Directors at their November 9, 2022 meeting, including the approval of three furlough days. For full details of the reduction plan, please see the presentation slides here.  

How much money will the District actually save by taking a furlough day?

A full instructional calendar day costs approximately $210,000 in staff wages, while a non-instructional day (professional development days, for example) costs approximately $170,000, depending on which staff are scheduled to work on that day. For the three furlough dates adopted by the Board on November 9, 2022, the District will see a cost savings of approximately $600,000.

Will furlough days impact the student instructional hours?

With the furlough dates identified and the cancellation of spring conferences, all grades K-12 will still meet the state-mandated instructional time requirements for the 2022-23 school year. 

Were staff cuts considered proportionately across all areas of the District, including Administrators?

Yes, all schools and departments were asked to identify proportional cuts at the beginning of the reduction identification process. The reductions since identified include positions at the District Office level, and across staff groups including administrators; prior to the $2.2million deficit goal being determined, the District had already reduced one administrator position this year by not re-hiring the Director of Facilities and Operations position following a resignation. Going forward, any positions opened through attrition (resignations or retirements) will be evaluated prior to posting for hire to determine if the position is one that could be included in future year reductions. The primary focus of staff cuts in the 2022-23 school year has been to minimize impacts and disruptions to student learning, while adhering to our staff contract language. 

How did the District identify which staff members will be cut?

Staff reductions occur based on positions being eliminated, rather than individual staff being identified. Once positions are identified for reduction, the District uses the language in the staff association contracts to complete the riffing process in full compliance with that contract language.

What about staff groups already facing shortages? How can further cuts happen in those areas?

The identification of staff reductions was completed in full collaboration with school and department leaders, as well as our staff association leadership, to ensure that all decisions were done in consideration of all potential impacts on services to students and operational functionality.

Are staff cuts still necessary if we take furlough days?

The number of furlough days that would be required to make the full amount of the necessary reduction of $2.2million in the current year would have required a significant loss of instructional days for students. However, it is also true that the use of furlough days helped to prevent distributions to course schedules or a rapid increase in class sizes caused by a larger number of staff cuts. The District’s goal was to find a balance across reduction options for the 2022-23 school year that minimized overall negative impacts to student learning, resulting in a reduction plan that balanced discretionary budget cuts, staff cuts, and furlough days. It should be noted that furlough days within the current year are a one-time reduction strategy, and that a long-term correction of the budget deficit will likely require additional staffing reductions in future school years to balance personnel costs against actual revenues.