FUSD at financial risk, declining enrollment, reliance on one time Covid relief dollars, says audit.
An auditor general report shows Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) is considered at high financial risk due to declining student enrollment and a reliance on one time Covid relief money.
According to the report, the weighted student count (WST), which is the average number of students at the 100 day mark of the school year, shrunk from 10,701 in 2021 to 9,702 in 2021. In 2018 there were over 11,000 students enrolled at FUSD. The decreased WST has meant less dollars to FUSD and their general fund balance has been reduced by 25% since 2018. The report noted that the “District did not reduce spending and General Fund expenditures exceeded available revenues”
The report goes on to note that since 2018 FUSD has gone through “almost 90 percent of each of its operating and capital budget limit reserves.” FUSD has used more than $3.8 million in one time Covid relief funds to maintain operations and FUSD plans to use its final $3.7 million to keep operations going.
The report conclude that “these are one-time monies, and to avoid future financial risk and to ensure it will be able to spend within its available cash resources and budget capacity when these relief monies are no longer available to spend after September 30, 2024, the District should plan how it will adjust its spending in areas where its remaining monies are used.”
One area the report did not focus on is why FUSD has lost so many students. There has been an increase in Arizona in homeschooling and enrollment at some private schools. Flagstaff Christian School for example has seen an influx of students who’s families have left FUSD and other local charter schools for various reasons. Factors such as mask mandates and and emphasis on critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum have been factors for some families. Covid policies and vaccination status have also been factors.
The report can be found at https://frisk.azauditor.gov