PUSD cuts 70 jobs
Preliminary layoff notices to go out March 15
A week after the Pleasanton school board voted to slash more than $5.3 million in spending in anticipation of state cuts, the board made it real by eliminating 70 jobs.
The board voted Tuesday night to cut the equivalent of more than 70.8 fulltime employees. Teachers will take the biggest hit; the elimination of class size reductions will do away with 29 positions in grades kindergarten through third grade, and the equivalent of 14.9 fulltime physical education, English, math, science, social studies and special education teachers.
The cuts will also do away with a the equivalent of 8.5 reading specialists and the fulltime Barton position, a fulltime psychologist, and the equivalent of 7.6 fulltime counselors, along with a fulltime program specialist and more than a half dozen smaller cuts.
"It's really unfortunate that we have to go through this," said Board Member Jeff Bowser. "This is not a scare tactic ... it's merely a process that we have to go through to maintain fiscal solvency."
Other board members echoed Bowser's sentiment.
"It's a shame that we have to do this, that we have to cut programs that are so close to our hearts," said Board Member Valerie Arkin. "I apologize to the community."
Board Member Chris Grant told teachers to "hang in there."
Bill Faraghan, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the district might not have to make all the cuts, thanks to retirements and resignations. He added that a fulltime equivalent of 1.2 music teachers will likely be brought back with funding promised by the Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment (PSEE) Foundation. Other programs and positions could be restored in the middle of the school year if a tax increase proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown is approved in a November referendum.
The cuts were approved unanimously by the board on a roll call vote so the district can issue preliminary layoff notices, which are due by March 15 with final notices due May 15. The district is in negotiations with its two unions, which could spare some jobs, although a list of CSEA (California Service Employee Association) cuts, which have a later due date, has yet to be announced.
The cut list did not include the elimination of the director of adult education and summer programs, currently held by Glen Sparks. That position was cut on a separate vote by the board, although a much-reduced summer school will continue.
That position, which pays $120,000, was eliminated at the same time the district is advertising for a replacement for Cindy Galbo, assistant superintendent of educational services, who is retiring at the end of the school year. That job, with a 217-day work year, will range in pay from $158,310 to $181,664. A master's degree is required, with an emphasis in educational leadership or organizational leadership.
Among the other cuts that were approved last week were reductions in car allowances to management. For Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi and the district's three assistant superintendents, car allowances will drop from $600 a month to $400 per month in the upcoming school year.
No principals or other management will get any car allowances for the 2012-13 school year. Until the cut last week, directors and senior directors received $150 a month, principals received $125 per month, coordinators got $75 a month, vice principals received $75 a month, and administrative assistants received $25 a month.
Meanwhile, the district stands to make a profit from its summer school program, which will be limited to high schoolers who have failed classes or need credits to graduate, and special day class students who attend school all year.
Estimated costs for teachers and principals for the high school programs will run $180,294, with $480,655 in funding coming from the state and $20,000 anticipated from donations, netting the district $320,361. That money will go to the district's general fund.
The board also heard a preliminary report on transitional kindergarten. That program, for incoming children who will turn 5 in November -- and possibly for some who turn 5 in October and September -- would be run in kindergarten classrooms at two or three elementary schools. Jane Golden, director of curriculum and special projects, told the board that the district had put together a program tailored to those students that would be revenue neutral -- meaning no extra cost to the district -- based on state funding for the 30 to 40 students who will turn 5 in November alone. If space allows, transitional kindergarten could be extended to those students who will turn 5 in October and September.
The board took no action on that report and is still waiting for news from the state, since funding for it is in flux. Members worried that implementing the program could mean cuts elsewhere.
A quick estimate by Board Member Chris Grant put the cost to the state at about $330,000 for just November 5-year-olds and about $1 million if all three months are included, and he pointed out that the same policy and costs would apply to all districts in the state.
Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, agreed that the state could cut other programs to fund transitional kindergarten.
"They're just moving finite buckets of money around," Cazares told the board.
The board also took no action despite questions from a number of residents concerned about the district's outstanding debt. A special session on the debt was held before the regular meeting and drew 11 people, although some longtime critics like Julie Testa, -- who was among those who were part of a citizens committee reviewing district debt -- said they hadn't been notified.
The review showed an outstanding balance of more than $87.9 million, not counting more than $21.5 million in interest, for outstanding general obligation bonds.
The district will pay $11.1 million on those bonds this year, but make no payment toward its outstanding balance of more than $17.5 million on certificates of deposit (COPs), which is borrowing done for capital projects like school improvements. Payments for COPs were expected to come from developer funds, although that money is much less than originally anticipated. That money is secured by the district's general fund, meaning if it cannot be paid from other sources, it would have to dip into reserves.
Cazares, however, said the district was very conservative when making its estimates on what it would get from developer funds and said money had been set aside from other areas of the budget to cover certificates of deposit payments when due.
However, critics, including Testa, Kay Ayala and David Miller, claimed the district used "skewed" figures to justify COP borrowing.
Miller asked the district to investigate the numbers it used.
"It's got to stop," he said. "I don't want to be here year after year pointing out the indiscretions of previous boards."
The district will also spend more than $176,000 this year on lease payments for copy machines and improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning and lighting at schools, with a total debt of $507,954. That money, like the certificates of deposit, is secured by the district's general fund, meaning if it cannot be paid from other sources, the district will have to dip into reserves.
Services to be reduced or eliminated at close of 2011/2012 school year
Service Full Time Equivalent
Home Ec 0.17
Home Schooling 1.5
Program Specialists 1.0
Reading Specialists 8.5
Science, Earth 0.2
Science, Life 1.0
Science, Physical 0.4
Science Specialist 1.0
Social Studies 2.5
Special Education 1.0
Class Size Reduction K-3 27.0
CSR Dual Immersion K-3 2.0