With slightly lower expenses and more revenue than anticipated for the 2020-21 fiscal year, the Healdsburg Unified School District (HUSD) 2020-21 budget reserves are looking healthy at 27.35%.

According to the unaudited actual budget for 2020-21, HUSD reserves are $3.7 million greater than the school board mandated 13.3% reserve level of $3,558,693. 

The HUSD school board of trustees unanimously approved the 2020-21 unaudited actuals budget on Sept. 15.

HUSD Superintendent Chris Vanden Heuvel said it is important for the district to have healthy reserves since most of the district’s revenue is tied to local property taxes.

“As a community funded district, most of our revenues are not tied to the state's budget but to local property taxes. Thus, our revenues can be somewhat volatile due to things like wildfires, flood etc. Thus, it’s important that we have healthy reserves to allow us to weather unforeseen circumstances,” Vanden Heuvel said. 

Budget details

“It was odd, it wasn’t one to be expected,” the HUSD director of business services, Debbie Odetto, said of the 2020-21 fiscal year and school year.

The 2020-21 budget was initially approved by the school board of trustees in June of 2020 and was revised four times during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Unrestricted general fund

For the unrestricted general fund, some amount of budget savings is typically expected because not all budgeted dollars are usually used.

According to the budget executive summary, general fund revenue increased dramatically in 2020-21, mostly due to the large influx of state and federal funds to help districts cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This influx of state and federal dollars skewed budget numbers and projections. Revenue was under budgeted by $886,283 and expenditures were over budgeted by $1,709,632.

“Expenses moved rapidly … but expenditures came in much lower. The biggest part of the expenses is that a lot of funds moved to the restricted side because of COVID funding,” Odetto said. “Revenues came in almost 4% higher than what was budgeted.”

For the unaudited actuals, the ending balance for the unrestricted fund is $3,987,744.

Restricted general fund

While revenues increased from the second interim, spending was reduced due to the pandemic and the resulting school closures.

The ending balance for the restricted general fund is $793,248, according to the budget summary.

“It is always good to end any fund balance in the black. This is only one side of our budget and the ending balance reflects COVID emergency funds from the state and federal government that are intended to be multiyear funds,” Vanden Heuvel explained. 


The 2020-21 combined general fund revenue is at $28,525,751. Eighty percent of the district’s revenue came from the local control funding formula (LCFF).

Under the LCFF, school districts receive a uniform base grant for every student adjusted by grade level. School districts receive additional supplemental grants for students with greater challenges defined as low-income students, English learners and foster youth. Districts receive additional concentration grant funding when the numbers of these students enrolled in a district make up more than 55% of a district’s total enrollment. In a basic a id district, such as HUSD, the LCFF determines what the necessary funding level must be, but that money comes from local property taxes, rather than the state.   

Vanden Heuvel said much of the HUSD revenue comes from the LCFF because it’s essentially “our local property taxes and state aid.”

Nine percent of the district’s revenue came from state revenues, 6% came from federal revenues and 5% was other local revenue.


The 2020-21 general fund combined expenditures is $26,811,660.

Total general fund expenditures are categorized as the following according to district data charts:

-       34% Certified staff salaries

-       28% Teacher/staff benefits

-       17% Classified staff salaries

-       14% Other operational expenditures

-       5%  Books and supplies

-       1% Other costs

When asked if the budget ended up being healthier than what was expected, Vanden Heuvel said while it is difficult to forecast revenue through property taxes a year ahead, they were hopeful that they would see better revenue than what was projected.

“We are forecasting revenues a year ahead which is quite difficult. While we anticipated revenues being healthy, we can only show true dollars and what the county is projecting for tax revenue at any given. However, we were hopeful, if not anticipating better than forecasted revenues and negotiated accordingly with our bargaining units,” Vanden Heuvel said. 

He said the district is pleased with where the books closed and as part of their negotiations with the teachers’ association and other bargaining units last year, school employees will receive an additional 1% raise for this year due to the district’s strong fund balance, bringing it to 8.5% total salary increase for the 21-22 school year. 

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