• A group of educators ona zoom like meeting

      A screengrab from PUSD special Board Meeting, June 18, 2020 Photo – KLRN

      The Pasadena Unified District held a special board meeting on June 18, 2020. Dr. Leslie Barnes, Chief Business Officer presented a draft of the 2020-2021 “Interim Budget” but cautioned that this budget could change with the ongoing fluid situation of Covid-19 and the everchanging funds that will come from the State and Federal level.

      By Albert Martin

      The County is not recommending that school districts use the Governor’s proposal for discretionary Federal CARES Act funds in budgets and, therefore, PUSD will have an unbalanced budget. PUSD will meet the Sate’s reserve level in 2020-2021, but not in the two subsequent years. The County is reviewing district budgets for 2020-2021 only. PUSD wants the Board to adopt the budget with a statement that the Board of Education will make the required reductions to balance the budget for the years out. Once the State adopts its budget, PUSD can revise its budget to reflect actual State revenues.

      Currently, there are two very different philosophies being proposed for the education budget. The Governor’s proposal contains deep cuts that would be restored if federal aid for states materializes. The U.S. House has passed the “Heroes” Act, which would provide funding for states.  The bill is currently in the Senate without much support. The Senate is indicating that some form of state aid is necessary, but it has not provided any further details.

      The State Legislature’s proposal assumes federal funds will be provided and does not cut the education budget. It would provide a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) through the CARES Act. Budget negotiations are in process between the Governor and the Legislature. PUSD will likely see more money once the State budget is adopted. PUSD must prepare a budget under LACOE (Los Angeles County Office of Education) guidance.

      PUSD is fortunate to have the option of Board Resolution 2562 rather than having to make draconian cuts right now before the State’s budget is approved. PUSD knows that under either proposal the District can expect cash deferrals, which will require the District to borrow cash. Moody’s just adjusted the District’s rating status from “Aa3 negative” to “Aa3 stable.” This will help when PUSD needs to borrow cash.

      The State Revenue LCFF (Local Control Funding) is at $146.5 million, which is based on per student funding. Federal Revenue is only at $400,000 without the CARES Act. Other state revenue is at $2.9 million. Local Revenue, which includes sales tax, is at $11.6 million. Total revenue is $161 million in revenue, and Dr. Barnes, Chief Business officer for PUSD, cautions that this is a $14.6 million-dollar reduction from 2019-2020.

      The PUSD budget includes $58.4 million in certificated salaries $17.3 million in classified salaries, $36 million in employee benefits, $2.6 million in materials and supplies, $19.8 million in contracted services, $900,000 in other items and indirect costs of $2.9 million, for a subtotal of $132.1 million. Transfers out are $2.1 million and contributions to restricted programs are $45.2 million. Total expenditures for PUSD’s unbalanced budget are currently at $179.4 million. This would result in a deficit of $18.3 million.

      The State of California is projecting a substantial state budget shortfall for the 2020- 2021 fiscal year.

      As a precautionary measure, PUSD passed Resolution 2562 which states that the work year and compensation, including salary and other rates of pay, for all employees, both represented and unrepresented, be indefinite for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

      Dr. Steven Miller, Chief Human Resource Officer for PUSD, stated that it “pains staff that Resolution 2562 needed to be passed in case there is a shortfall” and that “hope is that PUSD will not have to act upon it.” Board Member, Scott Phelps pointed out that “there would have to be state level action to reduce the school year down to 175 days. The state would have to prepare a waiver before this action could be taken.”

      Board member Larry Torres stated that he “would like for it to be avoided, but we need to set up PUSD for as much flexibility as we can. We don’t have clear answers at the state and federal level. [This sets] PUSD up for a myriad of possibilities.” Dr. Miller, then stated that by passing the Resolution 2562 the Board “would have the flexibility in order to ensure fiscal stabilization.” Board President, Patrick Cahalan stated that it is “ridiculous that we are put in a position of having to pass a budget that just can’t work.”

      Resolution 2562 passed with a 6-1 vote with only Board Member Michelle Bailey voting against. She explained her no vote on Resolution 2562 by saying that she would rather “have taken a deep dive into looking at possible program cuts before looking at reducing staff, salaries and the school year.” Board President, Pat Cahalan, pointed out however that “cutting programs also would mean layoffs of people.” Board Member Kim Kenne pointed out that when it comes to layoffs, “the state has the majority of the power with layoffs and we are at their mercy.”

      Commitment to black students

      On a more positive note, Resolution 2566, which is a commitment to Black students, passed unanimously. PUSD acknowledges that the Black students and families are in need of educational experiences that are culturally responsive to their interests and needs, and that Black students represent 11.1% of PUSD’s student population but continue to be disproportionately overrepresented in disciplinary and special education measures and underrepresented in Advanced Placement, honors and gifted and talented programming. Although Black students have the same intellect and potential as non-Black students in PUSD, they still experience the most negative outcomes of any subgroup of students on numerous performance-based measures. The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision has yet to provide equal access and opportunities for Black students in public schools. Recent events of racial bias and systemic racism have galvanized PUSD schools and communities to stand for the protection and preservation of Black lives and against the persecution of children and adults of African descent.

      PUSD made a commitment through Resolution 2566 that Black students will fulfill their potential to achieve academically and socio-emotionally and develop into well-adjusted, well-balanced citizens of society. As employees of the public, it is PUSD’s solemn duty to remain steadfast in providing African American children with the commitment to Black student achievement.

      This commitment warrants a broad coalition of support from school and community leaders including, but not limited to, the PUSD Board of Education. PUSD acknowledges that racial issues faced by Black people in society mirror the same racial issues faced by Black children in schools in American cities, including Pasadena; education for families and students includes African American families and students.

      Board Member, Larry Torres stated that “it will be important to allow groups of students to develop plans and do this important work. The students will be able to ask how they affect change? The students will be able to do this organizationally and create a world that they are hoping to find. Therefore, students will feel valuable and powerful and it will empower students leaders to use Resolution 2566 as a guiding document.”

      Superintendent, Dr. Brian McDonald wanted Board Member Michelle Bailey to have the honor of passing the motion to approve since she was instrumental in writing Resolution 2566.

      > Click to watch the full PUSD Board Meeting on June 18, 2020.

      [This article has been updated to change the headline to reflect the budget having been ‘discussed.’ June 19, 12:18 pm.]

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      1. Patrick Cahalan says:


        The budget will be voted on at the next board meeting. This was a discussion, not a vote.

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