Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 28, 2010

No surprises or changes predicted for PUSD budget

Parcel tax moves ahead, school lunches rise

by Glenn Wohltmann

Pleasanton schools anticipated the latest round of state cuts and will bring in a balanced budget for the upcoming school year.

"If the budget situation changes and continues to worsen at the state level, and we get a further revised budget, we'll have further economic consequences," said School Board Chairman Chris Grant.

Pleasanton Unified School District officials said Tuesday that a state budget will be late -- possibly not until November -- and until that budget is finalized, there's no way to anticipate what other cuts it could contain.

The district is expecting another $6.5 million in cuts for the 2011-12 school year and is once again considering a parcel tax to offset some of that loss. The board voted unanimously Tuesday to put out bid requests for a consultant and a survey regarding a parcel tax, and it anticipates awarding contracts by July. The last consultant, the Lew Edwards Group, cost the PUSD about $32,000, with another $228,000 spent on election costs, according to district spokeswoman Myla Grasso.

A parcel tax could bring in $4.4 million to $4.6 million. Even if passed, the school district would face additional cuts to make up the difference between the new revenue and the anticipated new cuts. The bulk of the school's current budget -- 85.5 percent in the 2009-10 school year -- is spent on personnel, and more personnel cuts would be likely whether a parcel tax passes or not.

School parcel taxes require a two-thirds majority to pass. Measure G last June was defeated although nearly 62 percent voted for the tax, something school officials take as a positive sign.

Grasso said the current plan would put a parcel tax measure on the ballot next spring.

Prices for school lunches across the district will rise by 25 cents for the upcoming year, bringing the cost for elementary school lunches to $3.25 and secondary school lunch prices to $3.50. Child Nutrition Services Manager Frank Castro noted it's been three years since the last increase, and that most other districts in the area already charge more.

"We really tightened down the hatches to make this budget work," Castro told the board, which unanimously approved the increase.

Castro said the raise in prices will bring in an additional $7,000, just enough so that lunches would cover their own costs.

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