• A building with a large door and green trees next to it

      Pasadena Unified School District (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      PUSD certified the 2020-21 Second Interim Budget at the March 11, 2021 Board Meeting.

       By Albert Martin

      Leslie Barnes, Chief Business Officer, said PUSD “will meet the 2% reserve needed for this year and the next two subsequent years.”  Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2021-22 combines unfunded COLA from current year with estimated COLA for 2021-22 for a total COLA of 3.85% beginning in 2021-22 for LCFF. Special Education, Child Care, and other categorical programs will receive the estimated COLA for 2021-22 COLA of 1.5%.  All deferrals, except the June deferral, will be eliminated in the 2021-22 fiscal year.   It is anticipated that PUSD will not need to borrow any funds in 2021-22.

      PUSD’s COVID Relief Funding, including Federal CARES Act Funding, continues an additional $0.75 per meal through August 2021.  The state has set deadline of May 2021 to have the Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) fully spent or they will be swept.  Dr. Barnes said “PUSD has exhausted all of these funds.”

      There was $6.8 billion allotted in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) funds. PUSD is estimated to receive $17.8 million dollars of these funds.  There is $341.4 million in Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds of which $187.5 million dollars is slated for private schools. Barnes stated, “The amount PUSD is estimated to receive from these funds is unknown at this time.”

      Budget assumptions on salary increases have been included as authorized by the Board of Education to the District’s negotiations team. Salary increases are slated in the current budget for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 years.  PUSD expenditure savings are included on Remote Learning: 1 million dollars on substitutes, 3 million dollars on transportation, and $300,000 was saved on athletics.

      Food Service Costs were transferred to $3.2 million dollar Esser funds. Fewer children were coming to pick up the meals during the pandemic, but PUSD was not allowed to lay off food service workers.

      No matter the size of the school, there must be a minimum number of food service workers and custodians.  PUSD will need these staff members when schools re-open. PUSD hopes to reach out to the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA to offer catering services once these programs re-open.

      Barnes cautioned that the current level of deficit spending is not sustainable as estimated in 2022-23. Areas of concern include:

      1. zero COLA’s,
      2. Hold Harmless on ADA which may not continue,
      3. anticipated increases in Special Ed (based on historical trends), and
      4. potential contribution to the Food Service Fund.

      The Special Education Costs have Multi-million dollar increases that are not sustainable without increased Special Ed revenues. The Food Service Fund requires contribution, which was offset this year by COVID Relief Funds.  Food costs, inability to layoff staff, and poor participation in the Self Insurance Fund increase budget costs.  Vehicle replacements have been deferred, which creates dangerous conditions for employees. Despite fewer workman’s comp claims, this will probably change with the re-opening. Barnes stated, “I added a million dollar budget assumption to workman’s comp.” Although PUSD currently has negative areas in the red, Barnes cautioned there is still a need to “increase contributions and decrease costs.”

      Governor Newsom’s re-opening incentives were not included in PUSD’s second interim budget.

      Barnes stated that “in addition to the 2 billion dollars in re-opening incentives, there is also 4.6 dollars available in learning loss mitigation.”  PUSD received 7.8 million dollars from Measure J in the last 14 months, and hopes for larger Measure J funds now that more businesses are re-opening as we move into the Red Tier.  Dr. Blanco, Chief Academic Officer, said PUSD is hoping to offer a “robust summer school program.”


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