School Board, Council Inch Closer to Implementing Measure J Tax Revenue Sharing

Annual Joint Special Meeting on Monday will formalize publoc schools’ spending needs and priorities

Published : Friday, March 1, 2019 | 5:56 AM

Efforts to implement and prioritize the sharing of Measure J sales tax revenues will take center stage Monday at a special annual joint meeting of the Pasadena City Council and the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education. The two groups will meet to review and hear updates from the Measure J Ad Hoc Committee.

The City Council approved the formation of the ad hoc committee—which includes three members of the City Council and three members of the Board of Education—in December of 2019, following the successful passage of Measure J, which advises that one-third of yearly Measure I sales tax revenue be shared with the PUSD.

Committee members Mayor Terry Tornek and Councilmembers Hampton and Margaret McAustin, Pasadena Unified Board President Lawrence Torres, along with School Board members Patrick Cahalan and Kimberly Kenne, met previously on December 19th and February 19th.

In addition, two informal meetings were held that included the Mayor and staff from the City and School District.

On February 19, PUSD representatives laid out its overall spending priorities in three broad categories for the use of Measure J funds:

Priority One – Fiscal Stabilization: According to the PUSD, first priority for the use of Measure J funds would be to ensure the District maintains the state-required 3% reserve requirement to maintain local control of the District. Funds in this category could also be used to account for mid-year reductions in enrollment which result in the loss of state funding. It is anticipated that in Fiscal Year 2019-2020 approximately $4 million would be devoted to this category.

At the last City Council meeting Monday, February 25, however, at least two councilmembers expressed disapproval for this priority, preferring that money be spent on programming.

Priority Two – Restoring and Maintaining Existing Educational Programming – The second priority for the District would be to restore or maintain programs and the positions that support them, which were identified for reduction through the Fiscal Stabilization Plan. A number of PUSD Board members, including Michelle Richardson Bailey, have expressed the need in previous meetings to support the District’s various signature programs , such as its International Baccalaureate, Dual­ Language Immersion, Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Math (STEM/STEAM), Visual & Performing Arts, and International Academy programs.

It is anticipated that in Fiscal Year 2019-2020, approximately $3 million would be devoted to this category.

Priority Three – Other District Priorities and Projects Benefiting Students – While priority areas one and two are expected to utilize all the available Measure J funding for fiscal year 2019-2020, according to a staff report; the District has expressed hope that over time the District might be able to utilize future funding towards other priorities and projects that would benefit students.

The Committee members discussed memorializing these priorities in a more permanent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would also include annual reporting to the City Council regarding t funds for the immediately preceding, and upcoming fiscal years.

The initial term of the MOU was proposed for three years, with automatic annual renewals unless otherwise terminated by the City.

The Council and District will also discuss a possible formalization of the ad hoc committee into a standing committee that would meet regularly to review the financial performance of the District and consider such matters as the District’s facilities re-use plan. According to the staff report, “Such closer coordination between the School District and the City would be expected to benefit both agencies.”

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