Measure J Tax Revenues Help Pasadena Unified Restore, Add Staff and Programs in New Budget Passed Thursday

With Measure J revenues, required financial reserves should be exceeded, staffing will rise by 6.4%

Published : Friday, June 28, 2019 | 4:35 AM

Following months of meetings, and millions of dollars in reductions over the last few years, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board Thursday passed its 2019-2020 fiscal year budget by a 5-1 vote, restoring a number of programs and staff positions, and adding to the District’s reserves.

The approved budget, presented by Chief Business Officer Leslie Barnes, shows total revenues of $172.8 million against total expenditures of $179 million, setting a deficit spending level of $6.2 million.

“This is the first year we won’t be under the control of the County,” remarked Board member Scott Phelps, referring to the L.A. County Office of Education. Known as LACOE, the County office directed the Board in 2017 to create a financial stability plan to restore a projected $14 million gap, and assigned a county officer to supervise the District’s budget.

The budget is the first to reflect the approximately $5 million in new revenue derived from the passage of Measure J last year, but according to the budget, upcoming fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22 will require the implementation of $8 million in major reductions or revenue increases.

According to Barnes, the 2019-20 budget also reflects a $17.4 million ending fund balance in the Unrestricted General Fund. This is a 7.56% reserve which exceeds the 3% reserve requirement. This year, $8 million in expenditure reductions and/or revenue increases were identified and will be included in the budget in order to maintain the 3% reserve for 2021-22.

In addition, according to Thursday’s revised report, the District expects to receive 100% of the Local Control Funding Formula monies to help fund both on-going programs and one-time expenses.

The new budget also provides an increase of 6.45% full and part-time additional positions, including teachers, instructional aides, nurses and coordinators.

But as enrollment figures continue to drop in the District, this year’s Measure J funds were primarily used to offset the loss of Average Daily Attendance (ADA) revenue from the State, at cost of $4.2 million. Both the City Council and PUSD agreed last year that Measure J funds should focus on offsetting the loss of State revenues.

The new revenue also allows the District to potentially restore three Coordinator positions and will allow the district to maintain the International Baccalaureate, Dual Language Immersion, STEM and STEAM, as well as Visual Performing Arts and the International Academy.

The Measure J Funding also contributed $125,000 for the All District Band at the 2020 Rose Parade.

The budget also expresses a District concern regarding the growing costs of Worker’s Compensation, as well as the rapidly rising cost of Special Education services, as well as the need to create a comprehensive plan regarding in-house contracted services.

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