Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 10, 2011

School board appropriates $2.4 million to keep class size, restore P.E.

Governor's May budget revision assures state funding to un-do some cuts

by Jessica Lipsky and Glenn Wohltmann

The Pleasanton school board has voted to rescind $2.4 million of the cuts it made earlier this year after better-than-expected numbers came out in Gov. Jerry Brown's May budget revision.

While Pleasanton Unified School District officials admit there is still uncertainty and speculation about the state budget, funding numbers in the revision gave them assurances that they could restore some reductions while remaining fiscally conservative.

With its new money, the administration voted last Friday to maintain the 25 to 1 student-teacher ratio in grades K-3, at a cost of $1.3 million, and to restore physical education sections at elementary schools for $400,000. Part-time reading specialists also will be reinstated at nine elementary schools for a total cost of $400,000.

"We are absolutely thrilled that we are able to rescind some of these reductions," said Board Member Joan Laursen.

More than 40 people attended the meeting to thank the board for restoring programs and to advocate for additional class time at the high schools. Residents were quick to point out that the three additional class times per school, at $17,000 each, were the least pricey item on the board's list.

"I really do want to have seven periods because ... I want to continue to take sciences," said student Zane Manna, who added that he couldn't take biology because there are only six periods a day. "I want to actively challenge myself because it's getting tougher and tougher to get into the top colleges."

In a 3-2 vote, the board passed a resolution to allocate $50,000 to Foothill and Amador Valley high schools for an additional three class times during the 2011-12 school year. Voting against it were Laursen and Jeff Bowser, who advocated for fiscal prudence.

"We cut almost $20 million over the past several years and having a seventh period is a luxury, a luxury we can't afford," Bowser said.

While the board also allocated $50,000 to elementary schools for remedial programs and $200,000 for counseling services, Bowser encouraged everyone to continue fundraising and fighting.

"It's not over yet, we're going to be back in the same situation next year," he said.

Despite Bowser's warning, many in attendance seemed relieved by the vote.

"I like everything that they've done and I'm delighted that they took time to hear suggestions. Every step is an improvement," said Marilyn Palowitch, president of Amador Friends of Music.

Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi said the district hopes to restore all programs in a few years.

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