The Pleasanton Unified School District is slated to receive about $8 million from the federal government, but it may not be enough to tackle a $9.7-million shortfall.
The money would come from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, through the federal government's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package signed by President Obama. It includes $4.2 million to compensate for the cut to the revenue limit in February; $2.5 million would be for special education and $1.4 million for categorical program reductions.
At Tuesday night's school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Luz Cazares said these are "one-time dollars."
"Once they're spent, they're gone," she said. "They're not coming back per year."
While the district said there are no categorical restrictions on how the $4.2 million is spent, it is intended to save jobs and provide new and innovative programs.
The special education funding, however, does have restrictions. Cazares said it would be paid in two parts over two years. The first 50 percent could be used to offset encroachment, while the district would need to meet special requirements to use the second half on something other than special education.
On the California's Department of Education website, it reads that PUSD is receiving $5.9 million in special education funding. Cazares said that money will "travel through" the district, and the district will only get to keep $2.5 million.
Myla Grasso, spokeswoman for PUSD, said the district is unsure when the money would arrive, since the state is running behind. Funds for special education were supposed to have been received in March and it's still not available. The second half of the special education money is scheduled to come in late July or early August.
Cazares said the funding was good news, but it appears that the state budget situation could bring more bad news. This tuesday's election will have voters decide on state propositions 1A to 1F. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget from February assumes these have passed and would give the state $6 billion. In addition, the Legislative Analyst's Office has said the state shortfall could be up to $20 billion for this year and next.
"We're expecting additional cuts to come in," Cazares said. "When we started this process, the state deficit was $41.6 billion and was presumably resolved with the proposed budget. We're now back at a $20-billion deficit estimated for next year."
Superintendent John Casey said the federal dollars are positive, as would $4.5 million in Measure G funding and $1 million in employee contributions if it were to pass in the June 2 special election. Yet, there are too many "negatives" keeping the district from definitively saying if they can save employee jobs. One "blessing in disguise," Casey said, was an extension for the deadline to hand out pink slips to employees. A final date hasn't been set, but is believed to be in early June.
"If propositions A to F fail, we stand to lose $5.22 million for PUSD," Casey said.
He also calculated that a $150-billion loss from a sour state economy could equal $13 million, or $900 per student, in losses for the local district.
During public comment at Tuesday's meeting, former councilmember Kay Ayala was not optimistic about the state propositions passing and said it could mean the state would make more cuts, including the $4 million for class-size reduction. She said the board would disappoint the public if Measure G were to pass and cuts were made to the programs the parcel tax was supposed to save.
Save Pleasanton Schools co-chair Joan Laursen countered, saying there is no indication that the state would cut class-size reduction, and that it's protected. She also added that the state cash flow situation is even worse, with the state likely to delay payments to districts.
Former school board trustee and city councilman Steve Brozosky also spoke at Tuesday's meeting. He claimed to have been personally attacked by a Save Pleasanton Schools advertisement that ran in the May 1 edition of the Pleasanton Weekly. Instead of sticking to the points, he said they went after him. It's no wonder many who oppose the tax are afraid to speak out, he said.
The ad, which responded to a guest opinion he had authored, made several references to him, including that he voted on the teacher contracts in May 2007 and chose not to publish accurate data in his ballot argument.
"You have no idea how many people contacted me and say they are afraid to publicly take a stand against the parcel tax because of retribution to their families," he said. "Nobody in a community of character should feel like that."