Trouble at the state level is again trickling down to the Pleasanton Unified School District. More reductions to education funding is expected as voters will decide the fate of Measure G Tuesday.
The latest state deficit figure is about $21 billion, but the Legislative Analysts Office is saying that number is more like $24 billion. Having already cut $9.7 million in programs, the board now faces an additional $6.8 million shortfall--or $9 million if the LAO calculations are correct--from the latest state deficit projections.
Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said that the budget picture has gotten worse every week and this week was no exception. She said the district is fairly certain it will be receiving $2.5 million from the federal government for special education--half to be used to offset encroachment for this year and the other half doled out in the fall with spending restrictions.
The district was set to receive $5.6 million through State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, but Cazares said the dollar amounts are now less certain. The first reason was that an error by the state in the application for federal funding was off by about $2 billion. Second, the May revision of the budget showed greater cuts to higher education than to kindergarten through high school education, meaning they would receive more.
Board president Chris Grant said it's important for people to know that the $18.7 million shortfall for PUSD is ongoing.
"The federal stimulus is not solving our problems in the long term," he said. "It's barely helping us in this current year."
The funding levels currently proposed by the May revise are $5,946 per student for fiscal year 2009 and $5,844 for 2010. These rates compare to $5,808 in 2006 and 6,368 in 2008.
Superintendent John Casey said the federal money is one-time funding, but the cuts the state has made would be ongoing and would impact the next several school years. His management team was expected to meet late yesterday to begin developing another list of possible reductions.
Measure G, a parcel tax initiative on the June 2 ballot, seeks to collect $233 per land parcel within the school district boundaries once a year for four years to bring about $18 million to the district. The tax would need two-thirds voter approval to pass in order to provide the programs outlined in the ballot language: small class sizes, reading and math support, libraries, counselors, technology instruction, music, and safe and clean schools.
Casey has said that property owners in unincorporated areas, portions of Ruby Hill and Sunol would not be assessed, even though some children are eligible to attend Pleasanton high schools. Seniors and those on disability are also exempt from paying the tax if they apply each year during the four-year tax period.
In light of the special election and a June 4 deadline to give employees layoff notices, the school board will have a budget workshop at 6 p.m. next Wednesday, June 3. Other workshops have been scheduled for 5 p.m. June 5 and again at 5 p.m. June 9.
The board is expected to adopt the budget Monday, June 22.