News

No major changes in school funding expected -- for now

December state review could trigger late-year cuts

It's too early to tell what will happen with the state's budget, but the Pleasanton school district is gearing up for some possible worst-case scenarios.

At its first official meeting of the 2011-12 school year, on Tuesday, the board heard that, for now, no major changes are anticipated in state funding for the district.

"The budget that was enacted was not significantly different than the one we saw at the May revise," Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, told the board. "We don't have any major revisions."

In fact, there was even some good financial news. The district budgeted for $2.7 million in federal jobs money but in fact received nearly $3.1 million, adding about $351,000 to the budget.

There is, however, some potential impact to the budget that could come late in the year that Cazares described as "troubling."

She said the state included $4 billion in optimistic revenue projections that may never come to pass. The state's director of finance is to review tax receipts and if there's a shortfall as of Dec. 15, automatic spending reductions would be triggered.

Those reductions wouldn't affect school budgets unless there's a shortfall of $2 billion or more. Should that occur, more cuts to school funding would be likely.

"What this essentially does for school districts -- it puts us in a place of uncertainty," Cazares said.

Those cuts could mean another $3.1 million reduction to district financing, although Cazares said she's already working to come up with just-in-case reductions.

Also at the Tuesday night meeting, the board approved $5,000 for a healthy kids and school climate survey. The cost of the survey is less than 50 cents per child.

The district has done similar surveys in the past, paid for with state and federal funding that has since been cut. The confidential survey, conducted every two years, provides information on tobacco and drug use, sexual behavior, violence and mental health, among other things. The information is used to develop programs for each school.

Based on the information collected, the district is adding school counselors to its DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and adding a discussion on cyber safety.

Kevin Johnson, senior director of pupil services, said the district is also adding drug and alcohol counseling and intervention at one middle school and both high schools in the hope of further cutting the expulsion rate, down to 14 in the 2010-11 school year from 31 in 2009-10.

Board members suggested that students be asked what works best for them and be given an opportunity to ask for help -- possibly though a text messaging system directly to school counselors -- as possible future steps.

The board also heard a report on its summer school program from Glen Sparks, director of adult education and summer programs.

Sparks told the board that despite large cuts, programs were held to help struggling students at all grade levels. Although academic support was eliminated for students in grades 1 to 5, 130 students at Valley View Elementary received English Language Development (ELD) classes. Another 37 students received ELD help at Pleasanton Middle School, and Special Day Classes for disabled students were held, drawing 233 at Harvest Park Middle School and 112 at Vintage Hills.

At the high school level, 731 students attended classes at Amador Valley High School covering a range of subjects for review and to help seniors who didn't have enough credits to graduate in June.

In all, 1,252 students attended summer classes; Sparks noted that at its peak, summer school included a wide range of classes for all students and drew more than 2,000 students.

Board members asked that academic support for elementary school students be restored if funding can be found.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greg
a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Aug 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

It doesn't sound like many expenses have been cut. Poor job


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm

For now? I liken the PUSD efforts to that of a person that doesn't provide maintenance on their vehicle in the hopes that everything will be alright. That person probably can't afford the maintenance because they've become accustom to spending the money they do have on things that make everyone happy. Eventually, the innevitable major issue rears its ugly head and the predictable result is an extended hand.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mellow Fellow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

This incompetence and greed in the school district is getting beyond reproach. It's not rocket science to see what's happening. Yet, we're all riding on an endless merry-go-round as the concept of balanced budget escapes the parading clowns prancing down the street. We'll soon hear, "But we need the money at the top for the kids." Yep, sure, uh uh.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2011 at 8:33 am

"This incompetence and greed in the school district is getting beyond reproach."

Can someone provide examples? I thought PUSD was one of the best school districts in California? Isn't that true? I've heard that the administrators get free cell phones through the district. Is that what you are talking about? That doesn't seem so bad.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm

"This incompetence and greed in the school district is getting beyond reproach."

My manners are beyond reproach. My ways of thinking through problems are beyond reproach. My ability to recognize and identify idiocy is beyond reproach.

Incompetence and greed are not phenomena that can be "beyond reproach," unless that is, you are holding up incompetence and greed as desirable items. Mellow Fellow needs to go back to school, as does Pat.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Loafer
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Aug 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm

"It's not rocket science...."

That is correct, Mellow Fellow, but it does require one's ability to think in coherent ways.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Teacher,

I was quoting "Mellow Fellow." Can you please tell me why you think I need to "go back to school"?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Teacher,

One of the useful lessons I learned back in the army was that before you tell a subordinate to button his unbuttoned uniform shirt button, it is best to make sure that your uniform shirt button is not unbuttoned.

Another useful lesson I learned is that prefacing or following a comment with a derogatory remark serves only to create anger and resentment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2011 at 12:28 am

I find such responses utterly irreproachable. I hereby announce I am retiring after one of the most irreproachable days I've ever had. I attempted to button my shirt collar, but it was irreproachable. I would dwell upon what I have learned in the Army, but the lessons I experienced were irreproachable.


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