Deeper Focus: Routine Restricted Maintenance Account
The Routine Restricted Maintenance Account (RRMA) has been the primary source of funding for school maintenance departments, and it has had a long history of being underfunded and suspended during difficult budget times. A brief history of RRMA funding shows that it has been consistently underfunded, “flexed” (i.e. allowed to be used for any one-time school expenditure not related to maintenance) during the 2008 Great Recession, and was folded into the LCAP when it was created (not technically cut but requires engagement in the LCAP process to justify maintenance funding related to the LCAP’s Eight State Priorities). CASH was critical in the creation of the RRMA, and continues to be key in defending its existence when necessary.
Anticipating deep budget cuts as a result of the effect of COVID-19 on state revenues (born out in the Governor’s May Revision), many school organizations proposed suspending the required 3% RRMA contribution. While CASH understands deeply the need for fiscal prudence at this critical time, we believe cuts to school maintenance funding is always an unwise decision, especially now when school maintenance departments will play a central role in ensuring schools are cleaned and disinfected, and have adequate ventilation to ensure healthy indoor air quality as school and state leaders contemplate school re-opening. For this reason, CASH respectfully opposed the proposal to cut school maintenance funding.
When the Governor released his May Revision on May 14, CASH and the CASH Maintenance Network (CMN) was pleased that it did not include a full suspension of the 3% RRMA contribution; it does include a more limited “pass through” provision that allows schools to exclude state payments made directly to CalSTRS and CalPERS from being counted as school revenue from the RRMA calculation (“Authority for local educational agencies to exclude state pension payments on behalf of local educational agencies from the calculation of required contributions to routine restricted maintenance.”). CASH views this as a technical provision and not a cut to maintenance funding. This provision was actually enacted in last year’s budget related to holding districts harmless for direct state contributions to CalSTRS,on behalf of school employers.
CASH applauds the Governor and state leaders for exercising good judgement in not eroding resources for school maintenance, which we believe is a recognition that school maintenance and facility departments will play a crucial role to ensuring schools are clean, safe and healthy.