April 2023 ACCS - Item 2 Public Comment 1Public Comment 1 received for Agenda Item 2 of the April 18, 2023, Advisory Commission on Charter Schools meeting.
The following information was provided on Castle Rock Charter School letterhead. Except when needed for accessibility purposes, no corrections to spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors have been made. The Charter Schools Division understands the following acronyms to mean: ELO = Expanded Learning Opportunities; CTE = Career Technical Education; EPA = Education Protection Account; LCFF = Local Control Funding Formula; PPE = personal protective equipment; COE = county office of education.
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Item 02, Attachment 29, Charter #0358
From: Castle Rock Charter School
RE: Appeal for Determination of Funding with "Reasonable Basis"/Mitigating Circumstances
During the 21-22 school year and the preceding school year, Castle Rock received an enormous amount of one-time funds due to COVID relief and other one-time funding from the State of California. That influx of one-time money increased the revenues for the 21-22 school year and created additional restricted funding carryover. This revenue increase, which had an expiration date, created a situation where Castle Rock Charter School was spending restricted funding over the past three years.
In the 21 -22 school year, Castle Rock received additional one-time funding in the form of Educator Effectiveness funding ($68,174), A-G grants totaling $150,000, additional ELO funding, and a substantial restricted carryover from other one-time funds. Specifically, the Educator Effectiveness funding is a multi-year plan that covers the 21-22 through the 25-26 school years to implement an Ethnic studies course. A-G grant expenditures include CTE pathways enhancement, co-enrollment opportunities, and summer school accessibility. Additionally moving forward, the ELO funds will provide hourly compensation to support food service ordering and distribution of curbside meal pickup opportunities.
The Non-Classroom Based Determination of Funding request erroneously stated that the increase in EPA funding was a substantial factor in the lack of instructional expenditures. While the EPA funds were much greater than anticipated, the total LCFF apportionment was accounted for in the budget.
Other factors noted in the prior submission that played into the lack of adequate expenditures and "excess" reserves were as follows:
- Inability to hire positions: Castle Rock had classified and certificated positions that were hard to fill, and if they were filled, many months of vacancies created a surplus in the unrestricted budget.
- Labor negotiations: The Castle Rock teachers organized a union in July 21. Labor negotiations for a completely new contract lasted all year, with a contract only being ratified in October 2022. Due to this process, and compensation being frozen, the staff members' salaries could only be increased once the negotiation process was complete. Effective July 1, 2022, the certificated staff received the equivalent of a 14% salary increase. This salary increase will dramatically affect the unrestricted portion of the Castle Rock budget. It will ensure that the instructional expenditures will meet the required threshold for 100% funding. The certificated salary settlement is sustainable, and expenditures are compensated through the general fund.
- County office assistance during COVID: During the COVID pandemic, Castle Rock was the beneficiary of County Office support for PPE and Safety items and technical support. Due to the COE providing these services and supplies, Castle Rock did not have expenditures for these items, contributing to additional one-time funding remaining in the budget.
In summary, Castle Rock Charter School had an inflated revenue due to one-time funding in 21-22 and increased restricted funding from 19-20 to the present, which created a situation due to staffing issues and lack of appropriate expenditure opportunities where unrestricted fund balance was growing. Expenditures for instruction-related materials and supplies in 21-22 were low partially because materials and supplies needed at the school were already purchased with one-time funds in the prior years or supplied by the County Office of Education. To give perspective, the one-time revenue for ELO, Educator Effectiveness, and A-G totaled $256,274. It is essential to understand that had Castle Rock Charter School not received this one-time revenue, the instructional expenditures would have been at 81.48%, and Castle Rock would have been on the approval list for 100% funding.
Castle Rock Charter School respectfully requests that the funding determination be approved at 100%.
Jeff Slayton, Principal
Castle Rock Charter School