Last Tuesday night's Pleasanton school board meeting will be broadcast for the last time on TV30's Channel 28 starting at 8 a.m. today.
For those planning to record the broadcast for later viewing, TiVo's or other recording devices should be set for at least 4 hours of recording time.
Another school board meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday (Feb. 9) starting at 7 p.m. and again in the Amador Valley High School multipurpose room. Although that meeting also will be Webcast live on the school district's Website, TV30 will once again videotape the meeting for later broadcast.
The meetings are being held at Amador because of the large number of participants, too many to be accommodated in the board meeting room at the school district's headquarters where live community television broadcasts can be aired.
The school multipurpose room was packed for last Tuesday night's special board meeting where many parents and academic program advocates spoke passionately about services and programs they can't imagine losing as the board considers making at least $8 million in budget reductions in the 2010-11 school year.
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, 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 she 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, the district anticipates 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 it sees fit.
Cazares said that the current crisis isn't necessarily an unforeseen "rainy day" whereas like the instance of mold in 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 also may form 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 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.