PUSD Board of Education Presented With Revised Budget Cuts, Details Of District-Wide Impact Not Yet Known

Published : Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 6:02 AM

"PUSD Board Meeting"

The Pasadena Unified Board of Education was presented with a revised budget cut proposal at Wednesday night’s meeting for the 2017-2018 fiscal school year, leaving out details of what the exact impact of potential layoffs and other effects may result from a budget reduction.

According to a PUSD staff analysis, the approval of the budget revision is necessary because it now reflects major changes of carryover funds, latest estimation on employee costs, and staffing adjustment based on based on actual needs and class size.

“We asked for a list of reductions by December,” said PUSD Board of Education member Scott Phelps.

The board passed a resolution in August that laid out a target of reductions totaling $15 million for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2018 and pertains to staffing, schools, non-employee expenses, and more.

According to Phelps, this is an unprecedented situation in his 12 years serving on the board.

“Our chief business officer is saying, in the current year, our spending is going to take us $3.8 million below the state minimum reserve,” said Phelps. “I’m pretty sure this has never happened before. We’ve never gone below the three percent reserve,” said Phelps.

According to Phelps, the explanation for this is due to budget reductions that were adopted but did not materialize in the areas of special education which Phelps says is a high focus area of improvement in the PUSD.

The big question is determining what areas within the district will see reductions roll out over the next year.

“I know the superintendent has very definite plans to try to address the crisis and he’s trying to determine what the core services are as we go through this difficult downsizing,” said Phelps.

At the Superintendent’s budget committee meetings in the following month’s, discussions about pay cuts are expected to occur.

“That will be discussed. I don’t know where the bargaining units will go with that,” said Phelps. “Everybody could take an eight percent pay cut, but that has to be negotiated and that’s very doubtful,” Phelps added.

According to Phelps, the closure of schools is a possibility but does not allow the district to save money on teachers.

“Whatever schools the students go to, the teachers follow,” said Phelps. “But it does save on the principal of that school, the clerical, custodial, utilities–it’s a few hundred thousand dollars per school,” explained Phelps.

Cutting positions Phelps referred to as central staffing is likely, causing staff to essentially “double up” on work duties that would otherwise be performed by two separate people.

According to Phelps, the district reported an approximate ten percent increase in central staffing over the past two years while enrollment has subsequently decreased.

“It means the superintendent has to do what’s called a reorganization. He has to keep doing all the same services with less staff,” said Phelps.

The board presented a revision it’s own operating budget which would cut out $17,800 and still remains just a fraction of the $15 million requested in cuts.

“There’s a lot of great things going on this school district, a lot of engaged, happy students, a lot of great teaching, and a lot of great things going on,” said Phelps. “But this is what happens when enrollment declines and costs go up,” said Phelps.

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