In the article "Building Bridges at Berkeley" in the November issue of FM, , we incorrectly indicated that the Berkeley USD had a $1.1 million deficit in the foodservice department budget at the beginning of the school year in 2001. In fact, under the budgeting systems in place at the time, the department had an $800,000 reserve fund on the books.
However, the beginning of the 2001 school year was associated with a wide ranging series of management and financial transitions at the district, as Alameda County instituted strict financial oversight over the Berkeley District in response to several years of district-wide budget deficits and the (at the time) widely reported failures of its financial control systems.
As one result, the county's "disallowed" the entire district's budget and commissioned a complete third party audit of its finances.The district was then put on a three-year "recovery plan" under which the county retained oversight of its finances.The district also appointed a new superintendent as well as making a variety of other major personnel changes.
According to current Berkeley USD school superintendent Michele Lawrence, three other events also had a major impact on the school foodservice budget. One was the loss of an outsourcing contract in which the district produced food for another district, reducing its former revenues by about $300,000.Another resulted from the third party audit, which re-allocated many costs and revenues, including a $400,000 a year credit for a state "Meals for the Needy" program which was redirected from foodservice to the general fund (as is consistent with most other districts in the state).
Finally, the district soon opened a new food court, one which had been under construction for some time, and which presented the department with an entirely different set of operating expenses than had been the case previously.This further complicated any direct budget comparisons with the past.
It was in this context that the department found itself facing major account deficits and the need to make wide-ranging changes in the structure of its operations over the course of the next two years. FM erred in not accurately portraying the complexity of this situation in its story and regrets any implication that major foodservice department budgets deficits were simply "inherited" from its former department management.