Amador Valley High School's multipurpose room was packed Tuesday night for the special board meeting, with many of the parents passionately speaking about services and programs they can't imagine losing.
If the option of a seventh period is taken away from high school students, band parents say the successful music programs will likely be decimated. If physical education specialists are cut, others said it would only overwhelm the classroom teachers that would be required to cover the subjects. The elementary schools were also represented by many parents who say the youngest students are facing disproportionate cuts.
Some of the items on the potential cut list include elimination of reading specialists and the Barton program; class-size reduction; counselors; and PE, music and science specialists.
PUSD's projected shortfall was recently upped to $8 million to account for risky assumptions in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget. Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said this includes plans to account for $6.9 billion of the $19.9 billion deficit with new, ongoing and unrestricted federal dollars.
The rest of the district's shortfall is based on $1.3 million of one-time dollars spent on programs in the current year, $2.3 million in rollover costs and $3.3 million in decreased state funding. In looking into the 2011-12 school year, they anticipate making further reductions of $1.8 million in rollover costs.
Responding to those who have said to use reserves for this "rainy day" crisis, Cazares said to use the $3.6 million in reserves would be a "delay tactic, not a solution." The funds would need to be replenished and the action could lead to the county having control over the board and district spending, making cuts as they see fit.
Cazares said that the current crisis isn't necessarily an unforeseen "rainy day" whereas like the instance of mold at Hearst Elementary School was unexpected and unforeseen.
Superintendent John Casey told the audience not to panic yet. There is still time to gather funding and save programs, he said, but the board still needs to identify the $8 million in possible cuts to be prepared. The district is currently in the process of developing surveys to send to parents, asking them for their priorities and how much they would be willing to donate to save the programs. Employee concessions are also being considered, he added.
A parent group is said to be forming, with talk of another fundraising effort, similar to the I Love Pleasanton Schools campaign that took place over the summer.
Long-term solutions being considered include developing a foundation and endowment; petitioning changes in legislation, such as changing the majority threshold of a parcel tax to 55 percent instead of two-thirds; and a parcel tax. The Budget Advisory Committee has also created specific subcommittees to explore various revenue-enhancing solutions.
Resources outlining the potential cuts, the impact of the previous year's cuts for the 2009-10 school year and a draft of the surveys to parents are available on the school district's website, www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us.
The board's regular meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at the AVHS multipurpose room.