As the fiscal year for Pleasanton Unified School District closed yesterday, the board got down to the nitty gritty as it weighed funding positions or possibly putting that money towards other programs.
Often, the five-member school board votes in agreement. However, at Monday night's special meeting, many of the decisions were split in 4-1 and 3-2 votes.
For the school district, the recent months have included several downs--in the way of mid-year, state-mandated cuts and the failure of a parcel-tax--and some ups with the prospect of federal stimulus funding. The board passed the budget at the June 22 meeting, a difficult task as decisions had to be made without receiving a final budget from the state.
Some personnel items were deferred to a special meeting Monday night, making it one of the last steps in closing out the fiscal year. With concessions from administrators, the board unanimously voted to bring back 1.5 middle school vice principals. The board also brought back a coordinator of information services and the coordinator of career and technical services, with the knowledge that these positions bring in outside funding.
Board members heavily discussed the proposed action to change the last day of work from June 30 to various dates in the fall for three administrators who are nearing retirement. The cabinet recommended the extensions to aid in the transition work, at a collective cost of $107,705.
Trustees Valerie Arkin and Jamie Hintzke were vocal in their opposition to the modifications, saying they wanted to put taxpayers' money towards the community's priorities. Hintzke suggested a compromise with a shorter extension, and Arkin said she couldn't support the changes that would help "max their retirement."
Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said that of the savings, only about $74,000 would go back in the general fund because of funds from the coordinator of child nutrition position would stay in the same department.
In the end, the board decided not to extend the coordinator of child nutrition position in a 2-3 vote, with members Jim Ott and Pat Kernan voting in favor. The other two positions, which could have brought money into the general fund, were granted extensions in a 3-2 vote with Arkin and Hintzke dissenting.
Arkin was the lone opposing vote in creating a management assistant/technology coordinator role. Superintendent John Casey said it was unrealistic to do without a public information officer and a technology assistant, so this new role would comprise two part-time jobs done by one person.
Had the new position not been approved by the board, Cazares said there would not have been a savings going to the general fund. The role is funded by administrator givebacks as well as money already budgeted under another position, she added.
In her reasoning for voting against the creation of the position, Arkin said she couldn't support it as the public information officer role was ranked low according to the Budget Advisory Committee, a board made up of parents, businesses, elected officials and district employees.
Several of those attending the meeting made public comments saying they preferred to fund programs instead of administrative positions, especially the goals that are outlined in the current "I Love Pleasanton Schools" fundraising effort.