With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling for more cuts to education after five of the six state propositions failed and Concord-area voters defeating a $99-per-parcel tax Tuesday, there's even more riding on Pleasanton's Measure G.
The hotly contested measure on the June 2 ballot would have Pleasanton residents pay $233 per parcel for four years in order to save programs, including small class sizes, reading and math support, libraries, counselors, technology instruction, music, and safe and clean schools. It needs two-thirds support in order to net an estimated $4.5 million for the district.
Since the board voted to put Measure G on the ballot in March, the state's budget climate has gotten worse, with estimates of an additional $15.3-billion shortfall. The failure of propositions 1A to 1E, which were designed to cover the $41.6-billion state deficit, results in a loss of $6 billion for the state.
At Tuesday night's special budget workshop meeting, Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services for the district, said these figures would result in $6.8 million of additional reductions for the school district, totaling about $16.5 million in lost revenue.
As for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, Cazares said the district has received award letters for the $2.5 million for special education, but hasn't received any cash yet. The funding is divided into two payments over two years, with the first half available to offset encroachment. The $5.6 million to be received from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) is considered an estimate.
Cazares said they anticipate reductions in SFSF dollars because of the growing state deficit that will be accounted for in the newest budget update. Called the May revise, it is typically released in mid-May and is used by the board to adopt the final budget in June. Gov. Schwarzenegger released a copy May 14, but is expected to have another version May 28.
"The governor, in agreeing to take the federal dollars, had agreed to certain assurances," Cazares said. "One is tied to the level of base funding. He had to guarantee not to reduce funding beyond fiscal year 2005-06. [The May revise is taking us well beyond that level of cuts."
Superintendent John Casey said the federal money will give relief for a short period of time, but won't cover the level of cuts going into the new school year.
"Measure G is relief of $4.5 million over four years, during which we would hope the economy would start to turn," he said. "It provides stable, reliable, predictable funding for this time of concern and supports program identified as critical by the community."
Some relief has been found through the February 2009 Budget Act. Funding items listed in the lowest priority (tier three) could be used for other purposes. Early estimates show this potentially adding $988,197 to the general fund.
The state also allowed some modification to the class-size reduction agreement in the act. A student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1 is currently funded with $4 million by the state and $1.6 million from PUSD. If the ratio were increased to 25:1, the state would reduce their contribution by 20 percent, but it would save PUSD $1.6 million in teacher salaries.
Cazares said, however, that the board approved the elimination of class-size reduction when it made nearly $10 million in reductions in late February.
"We would be restoring [class-size reduction if the parcel tax were to pass," she said. "We've been using the 30:1 ratio to develop the budget and didn't go beyond that because of contractual obligations."
This picture of the budget is not final, Cazares said, because there are several issues that could impact it. The board will hold their regular meeting at 7 p.m. May 26 at the district offices. They are also expected to meet after the June 2 election. Casey said they hope to meet soon after the election to move forward on the budget process, which includes a June 4 deadline for teachers to receive layoff notices. The board would need to adopt a budget at their June 22 meeting, which was moved from June 23.