Pasadena Unified Faces More Belt-Tightening Even With New Tax Money, Layoffs Considered Tonight

Published : Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 4:43 AM

Even with an approved Fiscal Stabilization Plan and shiny new sales tax dollars stacking up to help fill its coffers, the fact that Pasadena Unified School District still faces a bumpy financial road becomes clearer with the School Board’s agendizing more layoffs at tonight’s meeting.

Twenty-six positions, from bilingual instructional aides to library coordinators, may be notified their jobs could be eliminated as of June 25, due to “a lack of work and/or lack of funds.”

“The layoff resolution is certainly the one that’s most impactful to employees,” School Board Member Scott Phelps said Wednesday. “It is the implementation of the fiscal stabilization plan.”

The plan Phelps referred to was the roadmap to $10.1 million in budget reductions and the restoration a required key emergency reserve which was required last by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, known as LACOE.

26 jobs could be eliminated and 1 could see reduced work hours if the Pasadena School Board approves a resolution on the agenda for Thursday, April 25, 2019.

Even with millions projected to stream to Pasadena Unified from the Measure J city sales tax, the District faces financial trouble as its student enrollment size — the key variable influencing how much State money it receives to operate each year — has shrunk over recent years and faces continuing declines.

LACOE originally had hinted it might take over running Pasadena’s public schools if the District failed to come up a satisfactory plan on where to make deep cuts.

The budget cuts preoccupied the School Board throughout 2018.

The Board eliminated a number of positions, discontinued general education bus service, made cuts to numerous programs, decided to close Cleveland Elementary School and took other measures to bridge the gap.

PUSD submitted its proposed Fiscal Stabilization Plan in last December, and on January 9, 2019 LACOE gave its stamp of approval.

But LACOE Chief Financial Officer Candi Clark also pointed out lingering concerns.

“The District is still projecting an operating deficit of $2.9 million, representing 2.13 percent of the District’s unrestricted General Fund projected expenditures and other outgo for fiscal year 2018-19,” Clark wrote. “The District is also projecting operating deficits of $5.0 million and $3.6 million for 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively.”

Phelps said the layoffs being considered today are part of the implementing the Fiscal Stabilization Plan.

Superintendent Brian McDonald, in a public letter to the community on Wednesday, said “while the reductions are painful, we are committed to staying disciplined in how we spend so that our fiscal standing stays strong.”

More cuts may be ahead.

“We’re going to have to work on more reductions if we’re going to have raises or to bring back certain positions,” Phelps predicted.

Additional school closures?

“That might be up for discussion again in the near future,” Phelps said.

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