• a knife cutting through the word budget with a logo of the local school district

      PUSD budget (Photo – PUSD logo)

      The Board will be presented with the district’s Second Interim Budget for approval and submission to the Los Angeles County Office of Education by March 15.

      By News Desk

      Previous Budget and Causes for Its Deficit Spending

      The previous interim budget, submitted to the county in December, had recommended dramatic drops in district reserves over three years, what is known as deficit spending. There are two main reasons for this: The first reason is a decrease in funding as (1) the second of two large infusions of special pandemic-related revenue provided by the federal government must be paid back by September 30, 2024, and (2) the state is unable to continue increasing school funding. The second reason is that the district, like many districts across the country, used these funds to hire school staff, raise wages and meet student needs. The board and the district’s employee groups have agreed to salary increases in the last few years, with most employees receiving about a 28% increase in salaries across fiscal years 2021-22, 22-23 and 23-24.

      Fiscal Stabilization Plan Required by the County

      After submitting its December budget to the county, the county’s review and response included requiring the district to submit a fiscal stabilization plan along with the March budget. This led to the board approving large staffing reductions, although the budget being considered at Thursday night’s meeting contains revised layoff resolutions that will decrease these reductions by eliminating reductions of 12 central office positions (1 director of risk management, 2 coordinators, one for curriculum and development and professional development and one for expanded learning opportunities, and 9 districtwide teachers on special assignment positions) and 13 site-associated positions (1 program specialist, 1 psychologist, 1 teacher on special assignment, 5 career technical education staff, 2 behavior specialists, 1 clinical social worker, 1 truancy intervention and prevention specialist and 1 program assistant)

      $24.6 million in savings from layoffs and elimination of vacant positions

      Staffing reductions in the form of layoffs to existing staff and elimination of vacant positions are most of the fiscal stabilization plan that is a separate agenda item for approval. This plan shows one-time savings of $9 million to the 24-25 budget and $474,000 to the 25-26 budget via the reduction of 43 certificated positions and 32 classified positions. The plan shows ongoing savings of $12 million to the 24-25 budget and $3.1 million to the 25-26 budget via the reduction of 71 certificated positions and 53 classified positions. Total reductions over the 24-25 and 25-26 years are 114 certificated positions and 85 classified positions for a total savings of about $9.5 million in one-time costs and $15.1 million in ongoing costs. These amounts are roughly the same as the costs of the salary and benefit increases approved during the 23-24 year, which were over $20 million.

      Possible reductions in other costs

      The remainder of the fiscal stabilization plan lists $2.6 million in reductions to supplemental employment (including a $350,000 reduction to after school instruction), contracted services (including an $800,000 reduction to after school services), materials and supplies, and conferences. It is unknown if these would actually be reduced.

      Adding more duties to remaining staff and decreasing services

      The PowerPoint presentation from staff that explains the fiscal stabilization plan includes sections on how services will be redesigned for each department or division given the large reductions in staffing. These sections mention assigning more duties to, building partnerships with, and increasing the capacity of existing staff and narrowing the scope of services.

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