Federal stimulus money headed to Pleasanton schools

Still no word on state funding for the district

About $3 million in federal stimulus money could be in the Pleasanton School District's bank account before the end of the month, but school officials aren't going to be spending any of it right away.

"For the federal jobs bill, the requirement is a simple one," Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services told the school board Tuesday. "It can be used for compensation."

The money is part of the $10 billion federal jobs bill, and is intended to help schools keep employees on the payroll and reduce furlough days.

The catch, according to Cazares, is that California could ultimately want some of the money, or could reduce funding by the amount of the federal funds -- or more.

"We just don't know what that $3 million is going to mean to us," she told the board.

Cazares, who was slated to give the board an update on state budget, couldn't offer much.

"At the state level, I unfortunately do not have anything to report," she said. "We are left with a pretty significant unknown."

The board did get some money -- nearly $579,000 from the Core (Community OutReach for Education) campaign, which ended Sept. 7. The money will pay for four hours for technology specialists and three hours for library assistants at elementary schools, four hours for technology specialists and 2.5 hours for library assistants at middle schools and will give Amador Valley and Foothill high schools $45,000 apiece for technology, with an additional $10,000 going to Village High School.

Although the money represents only about a half of one percent of the district's budget, board members were grateful for the contribution.

Pleasanton Partnerships In Education (PPIE) spokeswoman Debi Covello, who ran the CORE campaign, noted that the group may be called on to more fundraising in the not-too-distant future.

"We're here for you. We hope that you can put us to work for you," Covello said, after presenting the CORE check to the board. She noted that PPIE's big fundraiser, "Bon Appetit," is set for Oct. 16.

The board also heard a report on school population from director of Pupil Services Kevin Johnson, who said the district had gained 62 students, making the total enrollment 14,866. Johnson also pointed out some trends, with enrollment up in elementary schools but down in both middle and high schools, contrary to patterns predicted by demographics consultants.

Summer school, meanwhile, was declared a success, with a total of 2,526 students attending for everything from academic support for students at risk of being held back to others who wanted to get some extra advanced classes. Between fees and volunteers and some state funds, Glen Sparks, the director of adult education and summer programs said sessions broke about even.

"It's a total district team effort," Sparks said. I'm happy to have served the number of kids we did."

Board Chairman Chris Grant said Pleasanton bucked the state trend by keeping as much summer school as it did.

"All through California, schools eliminated summer schools or gutted it," he said. "We had a number of students who graduated because of the courses we offered."

The board also agreed to spend $617,000 on textbooks, with state money that will also put $200,000 into the district's general fund, and agreed to a new health curriculum for middle and high schoolers.

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