The joint City Council-School Board ad hoc committee charged with planning the implementation of the Measure J sales tax revenue allocation to Pasadena’s public schools heard School District members present a hierarchy of priorities in three broad categories for the use of the funds.
Measure J will allocate approximately $7 million per year to support local public schools from tax proceeds under a new city sales tax approved by voters along with companion Measure I last year.
At their February 19 meeting, PUSD representatives in the ad hoc committee came up with three broad priorities for using Measure J funds.
The first priority is fiscal stabilizations which would be to ensure PUSD maintains the state required three percent reserve fund requirement. In this category, funds 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.
Priority 2 is “restoring and maintaining existing educational programming” where funds would be used to restore or maintain programs and the positions that support them, which were identified for reduction through the Fiscal Stabilization Plan. Funds in this category would also be used to support the District’s various signature programs including International Baccalaureate, Dual Language Immersion; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEM or STEAM); Visual and Performing Arts, and International Academy programs. It is anticipated that in the 2019-2020 fiscal year about $3 million would be devoted to this category.
The third priority included “other district priorities and projects benefiting students.” Since most of the funds is expected to be used for the first and second priority, Priority 3 will look at future funding that may be available for other priorities and projects that would benefit PUSD students.
The ad hoc committee members also discussed memorializing these priorities in a memorandum of understanding that would also include annual reporting to the City Council about the actual use of funds for the immediately preceding year and the planned use for the upcoming fiscal year. The members also proposed a three-year term for the initial agreement to enable PUSD to count it towards meeting LACOE requirements, with automatic annual renewals unless otherwise terminated by the City.
The committee also discussed the possible formalization of the ad hoc committee into a standing committee that would meet regularly to review PUSD’s financial performance and bring about closer coordination between PUSD and the City.
On Monday, at the City Council’s meeting, the ad hoc committee will report out these funding priorities for Measure J and obtain feedback from the full Council.
Mayor Tornek, who chairs the ad hoc committee, is contemplating including the subject as well in the annual joint meeting between the City Council and PUSD on March 4.