By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson and Judy Ly
In a Q&A meeting, following the announcement that Rainier would close, community members advocated to use Rainier’s remaining reserves towards transportation support for students who wanted to transfer to Tahoma, in south San Jose.
A community member asked where Rainier’s financial reserve was going. In response, SPS Chief of Staff Kelly Garcia said that Rainier’s financial reserve will be used for “capital improvements” to make Tahoma “more compatible with other Summit campuses.”
However, when Summit News followed up with Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart, he said Tahoma’s current construction plans are based on Tahoma’s own financial reserve.
“I’ve given input on our plan and development, but costs and development dates haven’t been finalized,” Mr. Stewart said.
In a follow-up email, Ms. Garcia stated: “At the public meeting you have referenced I misspoke.”
Rainier administration confirmed the last update they heard, in regards to Rainier’s reserve, is what Ms. Garcia said in the parent meeting.
Rainier Executive Director Edwin Avarca said Rainier’s financial reserve is estimated to be around $500,000 to $700,000.
He explained he doesn’t have enough information to give an exact amount.
“There’s certain line items when you look at your budget that tells you what you’re spending your funds on,” Mr. Avarca said. “There’s not something that specifically says ‘this is what your reserve is’ on the document that I have access to.”
In an email, Director of Government Affairs Kate Gottfredson could not give the current amount of Rainier’s financial reserve.
“As the process lays out, the final accounting for Rainier will not be known until the audit is complete. While it may certainly be completed sooner, the charter allows six months for the completion of the audit after closure,” she stated.
As outlined in the Rainier charter, once Rainier closes, the authorizing district takes an official examination of its budget.
The charter also states SPS is responsible in paying for any debt or financial obligation that Rainier owes. Rainier’s reserve fund will be used to pay for those expenses.
Ms. Gottfredson said only then does the Board of Directors have the authority to decide where Rainier’s funds go.
“While it may certainly be completed sooner, the charter allows six months for the completion of the audit after closure,” she stated. “Once that is complete, the board will be able to take next steps.”
SPS Chief of Operations Josh Lotstein, who was involved in Rainier’s real estate transaction, and SPS Director of Finance Joyce Montgomery did not respond to Summit News inquiries.
However, Mr. Avarca claimed the financial payout wouldn’t heavily impact Rainier’s financial reserve.
He explained that, before a school year starts, Rainer creates a budget based on projected expenses, such as maintenance and supplies. The costs are outlined and may change, due to unforeseen costs. However, it wouldn’t be a significant amount in comparison to the projected budget.
“Your budget is pretty set,” Mr. Avarca said. “At the end of the school year, you shouldn’t have a lot of actually extra, or a lot more spent, in your budget.”