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February 28, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 1, No. 25
Posted 2/28/20

#TogetherWeGrow. . . #JuntosAprendemos…#TogetherWeLead. . .




Targeted and Strategic Budget Solutions

to Mitigate the

Mount Diablo Unified School District Anticipated Budget Shortfall

     Each California School District is responsible to maintaining an approved yearly budget that provides transparency and clarity to the public and identifies the programs services and employees who are part of that budget with the specific intent of meeting the needs of each school community. As part of the process, each District must work to approve budgets that demonstrate the District’s ability to pay for all of the expenses incurred within the current year, and the next two consecutive school years.

     At the present time, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is able to demonstrate that we are able to remain positive in this year’s budget, however, given the rising expenditures, and in meeting the demand for appropriate levels of pay for employees through next school year, we must realign planned expenditures in order to meet our budgetary obligations.

Given a multitude of factors that have been widely discussed at Governing Board Meetings, Staff and Community Budget Solution meetings, Parent Communities, and through the District’s webpage and social media, we have identified a structural deficit of $21.1 million dollars that must be addressed for the 2020-2021 school year, and the subsequent school year as well. 

     Working to solve a multi-million dollar structural budget deficit is an absolutely difficult task, and yet, one that cannot be avoided given the current status of the District budget, stated priorities of our community, commitments made to our employees, and the need for transparency that our communities deserve.

Reductions to Budgeted Allocations:

     District leadership has taken a number of actions to mitigate the identified structural budget deficit which are well within the scope of administrative actions. These initial steps to review the budget, identify appropriate sourcing of budgets for needs, eliminate vacant positions, identify savings through Central Office Budgets, and move to reduce costs of District contracts, programs and services for already budgeted items have been essential in addressing the identified structural deficit. A review of these four areas follows:


1. Internal Budget Accounting Adjustments: We have combed through the working budget documents to ensure that items that could be placed into “Restricted” budgets are being appropriately tracked. For every dollar that is appropriately placed into an appropriate restricted budget we are able to free up a dollar in our unrestricted funds, which positively impacts our budget shortfall.

2. Reduction and Elimination of Vacant Positions: We have examined all of the current vacancies within the budget, and removed a number of certificated, and classified positions where we believed we could live without this school year, and into the future.

3. Reductions to Central Office Department Budgets:  We have reviewed each and every central office department budget and reduced these budgets wherever possible. A number of the programs and services that our students receive districtwide are supported by these budgets, and we took care to not reduce funds that could have an additional negative impact to students this school year.

Estimated Cost Savings: $6,600,000.00


4. District Contracts, Programs and Services: We have and will continue to review all District contracts, programs and services that are often part of the District-wide budgeting process. We are working to ensure that each service that we acquire through an outside vendor is being provided to meet the needs of our students. Where possible, we are making determinations for reducing contracts, limiting programs, and ensuring that services to students are targeted and specific. Agreements that provide services such as software and assessment programs, legal services, and instructional supports are being reviewed and reduced where possible.

Estimated Cost Savings: $1,365,045.37


Projected Reductions to Personnel:

District leadership is recommending the following actions to the Governing Board as an additional means to lower anticipated expenditures for the 2020-2021 budget and beyond. Given the parameters that must be adhered to for anticipated increases to revenues, and costs, we continue to be presented with a $14,500,000 structural deficit.


5. Administrative Reductions: Administrators in the District are members of both the certificated and classified classifications of the District. Certificated administrators are individuals within an administrative role that requires an administrative credential in order to provide the services warranted for the position. Classified administrators are comprised of any other member of this group that does not hold a certificate issued from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. There are several specialty employees that are also considered part of the administrative services team, including: Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, and Administrative Confidential employees.

Estimated Cost Savings – Central Office – Subtotal: $1,143,434.75

Estimated Cost Savings – Site Administration – Subtotal: $1,013,704.24

Estimated Cost Savings – Classified Administrators, Includes Confidential Administrative Positions – Subtotal: $682,304.74


Total Administrative Reduction: $2,839,443.73


6. Certificated Reductions: All non-administrators who hold credentials through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as part of their employment with the District are considered “certificated” employees. As such, certificated employees are entitled to be provided with a preliminary notice that their position may not be required in the subsequent school year by March 15, of the current school year. This means that if there is a possibility that a certificated employee will not have a position for the next school year, their broad classification of their position must be included in an approved resolution calling for a reduction in staff for a Particular Kind of Service (PKS). The initial draft resolution for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is being published for review today as part of the Governing Board agenda for Monday, March 2, 2020. The budgetary reductions that are being considered for certificated staff may actually total less than the overall cost included of the PKS, if extrapolated, due to the potential for bumping of positions for more senior staff. 

Estimated Cost Savings – Certificated: $9,419,255.11

7. Classified Reductions: All administrative employees holding no credential through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing are considered part of the classified service. As such, classified employees are entitled to be provided with a preliminary notice of the conclusion of their service sixty days before their reduction is considered to be in effect. This means that to reduce positions within the classified service a Governing Board must approve a resolution calling for the reduction of Particular Kinds of Services (PKS) of classified positions by resolutions. Following that resolution, each classified unit member who is to be issued a layoff notice must be hand delivered a notice of this decision. The District anticipates that the PKS specific to the classified service will be brought forward by early April of 2020.

Estimated Cost Savings – Classified Non-Administrative: $2,048,365.28

Summative Review:

     Funding that is provided to the Mt. Diablo Unified School District by of the State of California through the California Department of Education, and the United Stated Department of Education simply does not support the District in covering all of the expenses incurred for educating our students. While the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was intended to support Districts with making local decisions to meet the needs of our students, we continue to be provided the responsibility to return some of that same funding back to the state to support the unfunded mandate for CalPers and CalSTRS for employees. In addition, though we are now identified as being at 100% of the LCFF, this actually means that at full funding, we have returned to the same level of funding that we had in 2008, with additional expenses thrust at us as well. The costs of goods and services has also outpaced any received Cost of Living Allowance that has also been provided to the LCFF.

     All that being said, we have taken on this challenge, and have worked to mitigate more than 6.6 million dollars of this current budget shortfall through reallocation of dollars, limiting the hiring of budgeted positions, identifying savings that hope to provide limited impact directly to students, and planning for a leaner administrative team and service staff in the years ahead.

     Yet, even with working to mitigate these presenting issues, we continue to be faced with implementing over 9.5 million dollars in reductions to certificated non-management employees, close to 3.0 million in anticipated administrative costs, over 1.3 Million Dollars in outside contractual and service agreements, and 2 Million Dollars that will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead to classified services.

     We anticipate that there will be much debate regarding the Governing Boards potential decisions to provide direction to staff regarding the resolutions that will be provided calling for reductions to Particular Kinds of Services in both the Classified and Certificated classifications, however, we must work to see the broader view that everything we do for our students is allowable due to the approval of our budget and the sustainability of our overall structure.

The Work Ahead:

Addressing these types of budget shortfalls are never an easy task, and yet, as we look to reduce costs in expenditures in some areas, the process will make us more reflectively as we review every action that we are taking on behalf of students. Hence,

  • We must ensure that our decisions are made with students first in mind. We must work to identify the needs and barriers they have in meeting their success within our school systems.
  • We must work to build and expand on instructional practices and strategies that are focused and aligned to meet their needs.
  • We must strive to provide an equitable learning environment so that all of our children are provided the learning structures and supports they need to meet their potential.
  • We must pull together to advocate for increased funding for our students to meet their needs.
  • We must build capacity for leadership at every level of our organization so that we can empower each section of our District to be part of the exceptional learning programs that our students deserve.
  • We must continue to be good stewards of the fiduciary responsibility that has been afforded to us to ensure that each dollar is directed at meeting the needs of students.

View this Monday's Board Agenda here.


Appreciation for Feedback

     I have been very pleased with the high level of input from our staff and our community to bring into focus our shared values as we move the district towards improved financial health. From the beginning, our message has been that we must arrive at Budget Solutions together. We have had thousands participate in budget surveys, in community forums, in Thought Exchanges, in board meetings, staff meetings, and by phone and email, sharing in our process. Ultimately, the Board of Education must make difficult decisions based on our recommendations. As we arrive at those decisions, I would like to thank our staff and community with all sincerity for the continued participation. Although we may not be able to respond to all individual messages, please know that we have heard and appreciate your feedback.

Coronavirus Resources and Recommendations

     This webpage has been created and will be updated daily to serve as a resource for Coronavirus information for our community. In summary, the risk posed by this virus to our community is still very low, and yet there is a diligent coordinated effort between county and state officials to maintain the highest level of preparation possible.

Several Activities in My Calendar This Week

Monday, February 24, 2020

  • Met with Lisa Gonzales, Chief Business Officer
  • Met with leadership from Mount Diablo Education Foundation
  • Met with leadership from Mount Diablo School Psychologist Association
  • Participated in the regular Board Meeting

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

  • Met with my Cabinet
  • Met with my Executive Cabinet
  • Met with Michael Gardner, Human Resources Consultant

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

  • Facilitated a meeting with leadership from all bargaining units
  • Met with Board Member Cherise Khaund
  • Briefly spoke at the Community Liaisons meeting
  • Attended the Pleasant Hill Choir Showcase

Thursday, February 27, 2020

  • Met with my Executive Cabinet
  • Met with Michael Gardner
  • Met with Wendi Aghily, Executive Director of Special Education

Friday, February 28, 2020

  • Met with Lisa Murphy-Oates, Executive Director of Human Resources
  • Met with my Executive Cabinet
  • Met with Jose Espinoza, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education
  • Met with Jennifer Sachs, Executive Director of Instructional Support
  • Met with Lisa Gonzales, Chief Business Officer 


-Superintendent Dr. Robert Martinez-