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Pasadena School Board Debates Budget Cuts Amid Deficit Concerns

Members disagreed over travel expenses, professional development as District faces $38 million shortfall

Published on Friday, June 21, 2024 | 5:10 am

The Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education debated potential budget cuts Thursday, June 20 as the District faces a projected $38 million deficit for the upcoming school year.

Board Members discussed proposed reductions to their own budget, particularly for travel and conferences. The Board’s total budget, excluding election costs, would increase 22% to $268,000 under the proposal, with $30,000 allocated for travel and conferences.

“In the face of cut reductions in every other department, I think that we should seriously consider what are going to be our cost reduction strategies,” said Board Member Yarma Velázquez.

Some Members advocated maintaining funding for professional development and conferences. Board Member Jennifer Hall Lee said such opportunities help Board Members “connect with other districts and to talk about how they’re dealing with certain things.”

The Board discussed potentially limiting members to one conference per year beyond the California School Boards Association annual conference. Members also debated whether election costs should be included in the Board’s budget.

The Board discussed adopting Rosenberg’s Rules of Order as parliamentary procedure but did not take a final vote on the matter. They also debated public comment procedures and the creation of a Board training calendar.

Members considered developing a new “governance handbook” and discussed potentially hiring a facilitator for this process. Some Members expressed support for the idea, while others questioned how it would differ from existing protocols.

“I’m just trying to understand, aside from having the unity statement that is agreed upon, what is going to be significantly different than what exists in our current protocols,” said Board Member Patrice Marshall McKenzie.

The meeting, which ran over three hours, highlighted ongoing tensions among Board members as they grapple with difficult budget choices amid declining enrollment and rising costs.

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