HAYWARD -- While the school district still needs to make about $7 million in cuts to stay solvent down the line, the latest budget revisions have Hayward Unified ending the year in the black, a step toward autonomous fiscal oversight.
The figures, presented at a budget update Wednesday, show the district will "move to a much more positive direction of qualified certification," said interim Assistant Superintendent Sandra Lepley.
The district has had a negative certification -- which means it cannot balance its budget -- since summer, and that comes with a fiscal adviser appointed by the Alameda County Board of Education. The qualified designation means the budget will be balanced for this fiscal year, but not the following two years.
Lepley said that while the county supports the district declaring a qualified budget, the fiscal adviser will remain for the time being.
The qualified status comes with a caveat: If the state tax extensions that provide school funding don't materialize come June, the district will take a $6.4 million hit and be back in the red, and return to negative status.
That would mean more talks with bargaining groups to seek additional concessions, according to district officials.
The district also joined many others in sending out pink slips to teachers before a Tuesday deadline. About 35 were sent, a process that is done each year before many are rescinded.
Lepley said they found $2.8 million in the budget after a scrutiny of costs affiliated with salary estimates and unanticipated reimbursements related to charter schools, as well as greater state revenue than was expected. Initial salary overbudgeting was corrected after close scrutiny of the books, she said.
"We believed with detailed research, we would be able to scrub the budget and come back with as much as $1.5 million or more," she said.
The result was greater than expected -- a $2.3 million discrepancy.
All told, the district will end the 2010-11 year with a $4.5 million surplus, after required reserves are taken into account.
With no further action to trim the budget, however, that will drop to the point where the district is $5 million underwater by the end of fiscal year 2013.
The district has put together a task force called the Fiscal Integrity and Transparency Advisory Group, which has been holding meetings to discuss possible areas to make cuts. Ideas eventually will be presented to the school board, and already have garnered attention from the community.
A large group of parents and students from Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science packed the school board meeting Wednesday because they heard the school is on the list of possible cuts.
"We can't make any promises," board President Lisa Brunner said. "The fiscal situation is better, but we have a long way to go."
A third interim budget report will be presented May 25, with a final proposed budget due June 22.