March 13, 2021

You must know…The Common Message

By Gary Jones, EH&A Senior Associate and retired Superintendent

Arguably the best fiscal tool to assist you in preparing your school district’s or charter school’s interim reports and annual budgets is The Common Message.

CCSESA’s Business and Administration Steering Committee (BASC) researches and writes The Common Message in partnership with the Department of Finance (DOF) and FCMAT, as well as numerous other stakeholders. Its purpose is to provide county office chief business officials a consistent statewide message, based on assumptions used by DOF, to guide and assist school districts with their budget assumptions and cash flow projections.

To prevent confusion, The Common Message is not a document written once a year. It is the title of a publication that is revised and rewritten at important times throughout the fiscal year. So, there is a The Common Message: 2020-21 First Interim and The Common Message: 2020-21 Second Interim. There will be The Common Message: 2021 May Revision and The Common Message: 2021-22 Adopted Budget, 45-Day Revision. Each will contain elements from past iterations and each will contain new information.

Your county office of education is typically able to provide you a copy of The Common Message by the middle of November for First Interim, by the middle of February for Second Interim, and about two weeks after the presentation of the governor’s May Revision.

Here is The Common Message: 2020-21 Second Interim that the Fresno County Office of Education posted to their website in February. Please note that since every county is unique, there may be slight differences in The Common Message between counties.


Mr. Jones’ was the Modoc County Superintendent of Schools and CCSESA President. He retired as the Associate Superintendent to the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools.