Despite the defeat of a parcel tax, the Pleasanton Unified School District is trying to find a way to keep reading specialists, counselors, library staff and small class sizes.
Deeming it a "responsible risk," the board decided Wednesday to put off $674,000 of post-employment payments for fiscal year 2009-10.
A new requirement would have the district show OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) in the budget. Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Luz Cazares described it as an "IOU put down in black and white."
Chris Grant, board president, motioned to use the $674,000 to bring back two reading specialists, four of 10 counselors that were previously reduced and three additional positions in the library and technical support, as well as providing $45,000 for the Barton Reading program.
The money would also go towards increasing the student-to-teacher ratio to 25:1, based on new flexibility provided by the state. The current 20:1 ratio is funded with $4 million from the state and $1.6 million from the district. Changing the ratio to 25:1 would mean the schools would contribute no money and the state would contribute less, but would make the program "self sustaining" for the district.
In delaying the payment, Cazares said the risk is that it doesn't look good to investors if the district would seek to issue debt. To make up for the delay, the district would have to pay $1.5 million in fiscal year 2010-11.
The unanimous decision was made in time for today's deadline for teachers and staff to receive final notices of layoff. The district issued a statement saying Wednesday night's action would rescind about 40 layoff notices.
Superintendent John Casey said, however, that if the state budget were to worsen in the coming weeks, the district could announce layoffs on Aug. 15. This option wouldn't be as desirable, he added.
In budget news, Cazares said that Alameda County had notified PUSD that cash from the state has been received. These dollars, from the state fiscal stabilization fund, were expected to reach the district's accounts today.
On May 29, however, the district received word that there would be an additional shortfall of $1.2 million for the district, which is on top of the estimated $6.8 million deficit for PUSD as a result of the second version of the May budget revision.
Also at Wednesday night's special meeting, the board also canceled the tentative meeting for Friday, June 5. Their next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. June 9.
Measure G supporters offer donations
During the public comment section of Wednesday night's meeting, several Measure G supporters came forward with $1,000 checks made out to the school district. The donations, they said, was following through with what they committed to pay with their "yes" vote.
Others came forward wishing to raise money from school sites in order to preserve class-size reduction.
Grant requested a meeting be held with district leaders and directors from the two local educational foundations, so donors could work within current structures to raise funds for schools.
Anyone wishing to donate should contact PUSD at 426-4333 or visit their office as 4665 Bernal Ave.