Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 11, 2011

PUSD to get extra $300,000 in state funds

Money won't offset $3.1 million in planned cuts

by Glenn Wohltmann

The Pleasanton school district has a little more money in its coffers, but not enough to make a significant difference in its budget.

The board learned Tuesday night that the district will receive an additional $300,000 from the state. Most of that -- $200,000 -- will come from a state reimbursement for a claim from the district for ADA (Average Daily Attendance) money from the 2008-09 school year; the remaining $100,000 will come because the state will pay $32 per student based on the ADA instead of the $28 estimated by the district.

That does little to offset the $3.1 million in cost-saving measures the district has put into place for the upcoming year. Pink slips are headed to employees with the equivalent of 62 full-time jobs; part-time positions are likely to be eliminated, so more than 62 workers will receive the notices. Class sizes will be increased to 25 to 1 for kindergarten through third grade and to 32 to 1 for ninth-grade English and math.

The budget, however, does not include potential money that could come in from the approval of a parcel tax, Measure E, that will go before voters in May, or potential state revenue from a state tax extension which could come up for a vote in June.

It also doesn't include money that could be raised by local fundraising initiatives, like the CORE (Community OutReach for Education) campaign, which raised about a half-million dollars last year, and it doesn't include potential concessions from the APT (Association of Pleasanton Teachers) or CSEA (California Service Employees Association). Both those unions are currently in negotiations with the district.

Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, has outlined similar budget scenarios over the last few weeks, and the cuts, such as those planned for elementary reading programs, have brought out parents and teachers to defend them in the hope of getting money restored.

Tuesday night was no exception, as school health clerks lobbied the board to restore the cut planned for the district's Health Services Liaison Annette Green.

Health Clerk Mary Snell warned that hundreds of students could be turned away from the first day of school if there aren't enough staff to check vaccination records.

Snell said health services in the district have been quietly getting cut over the last few years.

"We had no warning that this was even on the table," she said.

Green also spoke, telling of a student who saved her father's life thanks to CPR training she received from Green.

Stacey Knight, also a health clerk, pointed out that 25% of the district's students have some kind of chronic condition.

"I am here because we are concerned with the health and safety of our students," Knight told the board. Because of the state's Brown Act, board members were precluded from responding because the item was not on the public agenda.

The board also approved a modified summer school program. Remedial reading programs for first- through fifth-graders were among the cuts included in the current budget, although Glen Sparks, director of adult education and summer programs, said he could restore them if funding is found; other popular programs are being held by outside groups, leaving a core of programs to be held by the district this summer. They include classes for at-risk students in grades 6 to 8, classes for seniors who need them to pass, make-up classes for high school students who failed core curriculum subjects like math or social science, and classes for English learners.

The 2011-11 school calendar was approved by the board Tuesday. Classes will start Aug. 23 and run through June 8, with 180 instructional days planned. That schedule could be modified if APT and CSEA approve furlough days in their negotiations with the district.

The board also heard an overview of Career Technical Education courses. Those classes, once known as Vo-Tech, are now geared toward helping students find careers in specific fields, and are based largely on labor market demands, according to Diane Centoni, superintendent of the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Center.

CTE courses now include 299 students from Pleasanton, taking classes that range from arts and media to business, culinary arts and engineering, with the bulk going on either directly into employment or into related college courses.

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