Home / Blog / Whatever happened to the $46M fine Sac City Unified faced?

Whatever happened to the $46M fine Sac City Unified faced?

May 02, 2024May 02, 2024

The latest breaking updates, delivered straight to your email inbox.

Remember that possible $46.2 million fine that the Sacramento City Unified School District faced after a teachers and staff strike that cut eight days of instruction from the 2021-2022 school year?

It could still happen.

The start of the 2023-2024 school year is set to begin on Thursday with the possible fine looming. That’s because the district decided a year ago in August not to extend the previous school year to make up for lost time, calculated as 2,400 minutes.

A district spokesperson said the fine has still not been assessed and it’s not clear when that will happen.

According to California’s Department of Education (CDE), the State Controller’s Office is still reviewing a report from SCUSD’s independent auditor. That audit found the city was subject to the $46.2 million fine.

“The State Controller’s Office reviews all school district audit reports to ensure audit standards were met and that process has yet to be completed for Sacramento City Unified’s 2021-22 audit,” CDE spokesperson Brody Fernandez said. “Once that process is complete the district will have a few different options to mitigate the penalty. If none of those are pursued, the California Department of Education will assess the penalty.”

The two options to avoid the penalty could include either:

If those options aren't pursued, the district would face the fine, though it could request to repay the penalty over multiple years, Fernandez said.

As of now, the CDE has not received a waiver filing. There is not yet a hard deadline to file.

KCRA 3 has also reached out to the controller’s office for an update on when it plans it complete its review of the audit.

Nikki Milevsky, the Sacramento City Teachers Association president, said that the union had been open to extending the school year but after a possible deal fell apart, the district did not approach them to talk about how to deal with the possible fine for all of last year.

SCUSD has previously said it engaged in good faith efforts to reach an agreement on how to recover the instructional time.

KCRA 3 has reached out for a response to Milevsky's claim.

Meanwhile, other issues are also lingering as the new school year is set to get underway.

The district and teachers have been negotiating on a reopener for salary and other issues to cover the just completed 2022-2023 school year.

Milevsky said that after being ignored for much of last year with a previous superintendent in charge, conversations have been ongoing since April and that labor and district representatives have another meeting planned on Tuesday.

An initial proposal from teachers in the spring called for a 13% across-the-board raise for all employees to apply as of July 1, 2022. The proposal also called for another 8.13% increase raise, effective as of July 1, 2023.

That proposal went on to include another 15% raise for school nurses, psychologists, language speech, special education credentialed staff and other specialists. And a 7% increase for educators with certain certifications or licenses like therapists, national board-certified teachers and more.

| Related | See updates on labor negotiations here

A response from the district in May called for an across-the-board 6% increase instead for the 2022-2023 school year and a 5% additional increase for some specialists like school psychologists and language specialists. The proposal also offered a $1,500 stipend.

It’s unclear what the latest proposals are heading into the latest negotiations.

As of now, SCUSD has 191 vacancies, including 97 classroom positions, according to a district dashboard.

Asked about possible staffing issues heading into the new year, district spokesperson Brian Heap said, “Like every district in our region and across California, we are challenged to reach full staffing.”

He said that staff has been working through the summer to fill key vacancies and a recent hiring drive led to 125 offers of employment.

Milevsky said the vacancies are higher than other districts, and that “there still needs to be much more urgency about how to recruit and train teachers.”

“We needed to be competitive to recruit teachers last spring when the major hiring was occurring,” she said.

KCRA 3 has reached out to other big districts in the region, Elk Grove Unified and Stockton Unified, to compare their vacancies.

The previous SCUSD superintendent, Jorge Aguilar, in June announced he would step down. He and the teachers union repeatedly clashed.

The district is now being managed by interim superintendent Lisa Allen, whose bio page says she has served the district in various roles for 28 years.

Milevsky said she has seen “differences in leadership” since Allen took on the role and that the district has “taken a step in the right direction.”

Heap said that while Allen is in charge, the district is in the early stages for its process of hiring a permanent superintendent.

The first major step will be the selection of a search firm to assist them.

| Related | See updates on labor negotiations here