With a $11.5 million hole left by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May budget revision, the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) board recently considered its 2020-2021 fiscal options.

While no decisions were made, the board met May 26 and heard Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Ahmad Sheikholeslami review categories for potential reductions.

One simple suggestion was to reduce such fixed expenditures as supplies, materials, utilities and insurance. A 10% reduction on that list could save $2.11 million.

Increasing revenue, such as passage of a parcel tax would help. A $100 parcel tax would raise $2.1 million. The district presently has no parcel tax, and passage would need a two-thirds vote.

Another source of revenue could include increased contributions from Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE), which this year gave the district $725,000. PPIE activism has grown over the years, with 20% of its members donating to education.

In regard to possible teacher salary adjustments, the district requested input from its classified and instructional unions. District staff launched an online “Thought Exchange” at https://bit.ly/Indy_ThoughtExchange for anyone interested in making comments.

Board members encouraged the public to carry the budget ideas directly to their elected state representatives, since the legislature will vote on changes. Staff will compile a presentation for the public to discuss how to get in touch with the politicians.

Despite some public opinion that the board is responsible for communicating with legislators, PUSD Board Vice President Jamie Yee noted the direct message from the public is crucial.

“I’m on a first-name basis with (legislators’) staff members,” Yee said. “But (the officeholders) need to hear from people.”

Review of the Graduation Fireworks

On another item, the board voted unanimously to approve a fireworks show at the county fairgrounds, which was held May 29 as a special graduation observance for the virus-sequestered Class of 2020.

Although the ceremony’s $45,000 cost was split by PPIE and the City of Pleasanton, some objected during the public comment period of the virtual meeting.

One man said in a letter read into the record that, with serious needs for money in the Valley, it would be better to form a committee of graduating seniors and let them select a project that would help people in need. Another public speaker agreed.

However, Haglund said that would not be legal, as the money already had been determined by donors for the express purpose of the fireworks.

“We are not in the habit of receiving donations for one purpose and spending it for something else,” said Haglund.

Yee acknowledged speaker concerns, but noted so much was already taken from the students this year.

“(The fireworks) will uplift the spirits of the community,” she concluded.