Pleasanton's school board chipped away at approved layoffs yet again last night, restoring more librarians whose jobs were scheduled to be cut.
Over the past few months, Pleasanton Unified School District has been adjusting its budget to cover a shortfall in one-time state funds that were fueling dozens of positions.
After voting at its last meeting to reduce certain parts of the budget such as furniture expenditures and food purchases for meetings, the board voted 4-0 Tuesday night to use that money to add 2.6 FTE (full-time equivalent) employees that will allow elementary and middle school library assistants to work five hours a day.
Board member Chris Grant was absent Tuesday night and did not vote on the measure..
District staff is searching for ways to fund the remaining 7 FTE that will be laid off at the end of June, and a proposal could be brought back to the board at the next board meeting on June 28.
The remaining jobs that aren't funded -- which are all fueled by one-time funding that didn't get renewed -- include site technology specialists at elementary schools (2.25 FTE) and middle schools (.75 FTE), library assistants at high schools (2 FTE), one lead trainer and one coordinator of maintenance services.
As a result, it is expected Pleasanton's public schools will have rotating technology specialists, who resolve computer problems and maintain the district's wireless network.
Foothill and Amador Valley high schools will each have one site technology specialist, who will work eight hours a day for 12 months. The district's three middle schools will share two technology specialists, who will work six hours a day for 10.5 months a year.
Lydiksen, Donlon and Walnut Grove elementary schools will share two technology specialists, as will Alisal, Mohr and Fairlands and Hearst, Valley View and Vintage Hills. Those specialists will work six hours a day for 10.5 months.
One technology specialist will work at the district office and at Village High and will provide assistance to the other specialists.
Two additional specialists will also provide back-up assistance to other specialists. These staff members will work eight hours for 12 months a year.
The debate over how to fund the remaining positions brought up the question of why the district has been funding jobs with temporary funding.
The district began funding positions with one-time dollars after the 2008 recession, assistant superintendent of human resources Dianne Howell said Tuesday night. Some jobs such as librarians have been funded with state attendance dollars or funded by community fundraising organizations such as Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation ever since.
"We have never been able to crawl ourselves out of that dark hole," Howell said.
The current one-time funding model spreads one-time dollars across three years, which school district spokesman Patrick Gannon said will provide some cushion while staff works out a way to fuel these jobs with more stable funds.
Several technology specialists spoke at Tuesday's meeting, or wrote to the board separately, asking that it prioritize the technology maintenance services the specialists provide.
"It is shameful where we are today," wrote site technology specialist Cheryl Vangundy in a letter to the school board. "Shameful that with all the current talk about the '21st Century Classroom' that you have led us to this position of cutting over 25% of the technology services staff. There must be another solution."
Board members brought up the idea of borrowing against a district fund, called the Sycamore Fund that was created by the sale of property, to fuel these positions for multiple years or possibly for one year. However, trustees emphasized they could not use the district's reserves to pay for these positions because it could put the district in a tricky financial situation.
"(Site technology specialists) are vital to everything we do at our sites," said board president Jamie Hintzke. "That's not in question."
Staff also noted that the district's $230,000 budget for athletics is currently unfunded, which requires parents to raise the funds to keep sports teams going.
The district also needs $550,000 in one-time funds to fully fund its deferred maintenance budget to last year's funding levels, which means regular maintenance fixes won't get made until they've become an "immediate problem." The district is making a $820,000 contribution to this fund, staff stated.
In other school news:
*Board members heard a presentation on the 2016-19 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which is part of the state's funding plan that requires public school districts to create a plan to provide all their students with access to credentialed teachers, Common Core implementation and other benchmarks. Tuesday's presentation was a first reading on the plan.
*Board members heard a presentation on the 2016-17 proposed budget. The total revenues are estimated at $142.9 million, and expenditures are estimated at $145.4 million. District staff noted Pleasanton Unified's payments into employee retirements per CalPERS and CalSTRS will increase by $2 million per year due to a change in state law.
*The board appointed Ethan Cheever, principal at Parkside Intermediate School in San Bruno, as Harvest Park Middle School's new principal. Five new vice principals were also appointed Tuesday night.