News

Economic forecast mostly favorable for Pleasanton Unified

District officials hope Virtual Academy will help offset revenue loss from enrollment decline

Despite student enrollment taking a hit this last academic year, Pleasanton Unified School District's budget outlook has improved considerably after the COVID-19 pandemic first began, staff reported to the Board of Trustees last week.

Recently declining case rates coupled with stimulus funding invigorated the state's economy more than anticipated and make the state's economic projections for fiscal year 2021-22 look promising, staff said at the board's June 10 regular meeting.

A year ago, PUSD was facing a potential decrease of 10% in its Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) but ultimately saw no increase to their LCFF entitlement. Instead, a variety of one-time funds from state and federal resources were received to help manage and support on-site teaching and learning during the pandemic.

Because the economic recovery has exceeded expectations so far, Gov. Gavin Newsom included a 5.07% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in his May revise budget, along with one-time pandemic-related funds and multiple proposed new initiatives and grants. While the larger COLA is favorable for the district, staff said ongoing expenditure increases and declining enrollment "will erode into the additional LCFF funding."

Enrollment declined by more than 400 students in fall 2020, compared to one year before, and PUSD lost about 400 more students this year. Staff said most of the current enrollment reductions may be because of the pandemic, but there are indications the district may lose an additional 200-400 students for the 2021-22 school year.

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Completed last year, the district's latest demographic report also showed an enrollment decline to 14,200 students, down from about 14,400. Each loss of 100 students equates to about $1 million in reduced LCFF revenues, which staff said could also lead to layoffs.

Assistant superintendent of business services Ahmad Sheikholeslami told the board, "For every hundred students that would go down, we're projecting to right size by four FTE (full-time employees), and that's a placeholder."

"We'd have to see exactly where enrollment is, where the tightening and right-sizing needs to happen, how much capacity do we have, is it at the elementaries, is it in the middle schools or high schools, but just to make sure that we're being true to our budget planning," Sheikholeslami said. "If you're going down enrollment, you need to be making corresponding adjustments in staff and if you don't do that, then you'll get to a point where, again, it's going to be too late, the cuts are going to be harder and harder to make."

Trustee Mark Miller then asked whether FTE reductions could help cover the district's average daily attendance reduction.

"That's part of the challenge; we're going to have to look deeper across the board with our staffing," Sheikholeslami replied.

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The district hopes students will return and help them capture that loss of revenue, and staff noted that enrollment in transitional kindergarten through fifth grade shows "classes are transferring pretty much at their current levels as they matriculate up, though TK through first grade "are much softer than in previous years."

Trustee Joan Laursen said, "Because we have to notice certificated staff by March 15 for the following year, this would mean that any of our existing certificated staff will be employed next year, even if we're engaged in right-sizing, it would come in the form of not replacing people who retire, leave early. Could you talk a little bit about how that would happen in the first year, in the near year?"

Assistant superintendent of human resources Julio Hernandez confirmed 42 staff members are on temporary status this year "if we were to get into a crisis point, that we could unfortunately let go."

The recently formed Virtual Academy could help boost enrollment by retaining and attracting students, and staff recommended evaluating initial costs for the program to support the district's long-term goal.

The 24-page report and accompanying budget documents show the district budget satisfying the 3% reserve requirement from the current fiscal year through 2024. The district's general fund reserve including the unappropriated balance is 6.58% for 2021-22, 5.65% in 2022-23 and 5.19% the following year. Total proposed revenue for the district in 2021-22 is $180,278,313, with about $32.5 million in restricted revenues.

General fund expenditures in the next year are expected to run around $185,819,744, with approximately $63 million in restricted expenditures. The majority of district expenditures -- about 84% -- are allocated to personnel. Staff said a net $5.5 million of deficit spending is planned "partially as a result of carryover restricted funds from 2020-21 and ongoing increases in the unrestricted expenditures."

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Economic forecast mostly favorable for Pleasanton Unified

District officials hope Virtual Academy will help offset revenue loss from enrollment decline

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 6:16 pm

Despite student enrollment taking a hit this last academic year, Pleasanton Unified School District's budget outlook has improved considerably after the COVID-19 pandemic first began, staff reported to the Board of Trustees last week.

Recently declining case rates coupled with stimulus funding invigorated the state's economy more than anticipated and make the state's economic projections for fiscal year 2021-22 look promising, staff said at the board's June 10 regular meeting.

A year ago, PUSD was facing a potential decrease of 10% in its Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) but ultimately saw no increase to their LCFF entitlement. Instead, a variety of one-time funds from state and federal resources were received to help manage and support on-site teaching and learning during the pandemic.

Because the economic recovery has exceeded expectations so far, Gov. Gavin Newsom included a 5.07% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in his May revise budget, along with one-time pandemic-related funds and multiple proposed new initiatives and grants. While the larger COLA is favorable for the district, staff said ongoing expenditure increases and declining enrollment "will erode into the additional LCFF funding."

Enrollment declined by more than 400 students in fall 2020, compared to one year before, and PUSD lost about 400 more students this year. Staff said most of the current enrollment reductions may be because of the pandemic, but there are indications the district may lose an additional 200-400 students for the 2021-22 school year.

Completed last year, the district's latest demographic report also showed an enrollment decline to 14,200 students, down from about 14,400. Each loss of 100 students equates to about $1 million in reduced LCFF revenues, which staff said could also lead to layoffs.

Assistant superintendent of business services Ahmad Sheikholeslami told the board, "For every hundred students that would go down, we're projecting to right size by four FTE (full-time employees), and that's a placeholder."

"We'd have to see exactly where enrollment is, where the tightening and right-sizing needs to happen, how much capacity do we have, is it at the elementaries, is it in the middle schools or high schools, but just to make sure that we're being true to our budget planning," Sheikholeslami said. "If you're going down enrollment, you need to be making corresponding adjustments in staff and if you don't do that, then you'll get to a point where, again, it's going to be too late, the cuts are going to be harder and harder to make."

Trustee Mark Miller then asked whether FTE reductions could help cover the district's average daily attendance reduction.

"That's part of the challenge; we're going to have to look deeper across the board with our staffing," Sheikholeslami replied.

The district hopes students will return and help them capture that loss of revenue, and staff noted that enrollment in transitional kindergarten through fifth grade shows "classes are transferring pretty much at their current levels as they matriculate up, though TK through first grade "are much softer than in previous years."

Trustee Joan Laursen said, "Because we have to notice certificated staff by March 15 for the following year, this would mean that any of our existing certificated staff will be employed next year, even if we're engaged in right-sizing, it would come in the form of not replacing people who retire, leave early. Could you talk a little bit about how that would happen in the first year, in the near year?"

Assistant superintendent of human resources Julio Hernandez confirmed 42 staff members are on temporary status this year "if we were to get into a crisis point, that we could unfortunately let go."

The recently formed Virtual Academy could help boost enrollment by retaining and attracting students, and staff recommended evaluating initial costs for the program to support the district's long-term goal.

The 24-page report and accompanying budget documents show the district budget satisfying the 3% reserve requirement from the current fiscal year through 2024. The district's general fund reserve including the unappropriated balance is 6.58% for 2021-22, 5.65% in 2022-23 and 5.19% the following year. Total proposed revenue for the district in 2021-22 is $180,278,313, with about $32.5 million in restricted revenues.

General fund expenditures in the next year are expected to run around $185,819,744, with approximately $63 million in restricted expenditures. The majority of district expenditures -- about 84% -- are allocated to personnel. Staff said a net $5.5 million of deficit spending is planned "partially as a result of carryover restricted funds from 2020-21 and ongoing increases in the unrestricted expenditures."

Comments

Jake Waters
Registered user
Birdland
on Jun 16, 2021 at 10:20 pm
Jake Waters, Birdland
Registered user
on Jun 16, 2021 at 10:20 pm

Newsom, with the upcoming recall, continues to ‘payoff’ his contributors (Teacher’s Union) for meritless effort. The pandemic has been good for them.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 17, 2021 at 8:07 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 17, 2021 at 8:07 am

This data seems to conflict with the realstate market - while I do see families moving out, they are being replaced with new families with school aged children, and the older home owners are also cashing out are being replaced with families as well - so where is this decline in enrollment coming from? If this is true, school aged children are moving in, but enrollment is down, that only suggests PUSD is not an attractive option for parents/students anymore; private and home schooling on the rise? This would be a good followup for the weekly to pursue - if realstate is skyrocketing with more families / school aged children moving into Pleasanton and student enrollment is down - where are the kids going?

This doesn't make sense, and when things don't make sense you start by following the money - where's that $35M bond money going now that PUSD isn't building another school? Is the district cherry picking data to fit the narrative?

Weekly - I would love a followup article


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 17, 2021 at 8:08 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jun 17, 2021 at 8:08 am

Oh - and on Newsom COLA adjustment. I don't agree with the guy on 90% of his actions, this was a good one assuming it actually hits the teachers and doesn't get filtered through the administration first.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 18, 2021 at 8:37 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 18, 2021 at 8:37 am

PP, the $35 million, promised to be returned to voters? They have said they’ll use it toward a K-8 school, or maybe expand existing schools, or who knows what else. But they will keep the money and keep fibbing about its use until it’s gone. Good luck getting the next parcel tax.


Fired Up!
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 26, 2021 at 5:14 pm
Fired Up!, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2021 at 5:14 pm

@Kathleen Ruegsegger - There is a bond oversight committee in place to protect the taxpayers and the funds. Is the oversight committee not doing its job? Why do you say they will continue to fib? I have no backstory to understand your position. Can you provide more details? Is this something that needs to be reported?


skynet
Registered user
Mission Park
on Jun 27, 2021 at 7:12 am
skynet, Mission Park
Registered user
on Jun 27, 2021 at 7:12 am

The bond oversight committee has a very limited role. They do not review if our tax dollars are effectively spent, the wisdom of PUSD's strategy to deploy those funds, or comment on alternatives to the selected projects. In effect, their only role is to pass judgement if the monies spent confirm to the States definition of Capital Expense. We would all benefit if the bond oversight committee was tasked with a fiduciary duty to taxpayers.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 27, 2021 at 7:58 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 27, 2021 at 7:58 am

There is a clause in the resolution that states, essentially, “we don’t have to do the projects, even if there is money to do so.” So, the board has promised to build a school or return the money to the community—but so far, neither is happening. The board has talked about expanding other elementaries or saving it toward a K-8 school. The first is unconscionable; the latter a long wait and see. There are time limits, I believe, on spending the money. And skynet is correct, the bond oversight committee has very little power.


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