California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May Revise of the state budget may treat the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) a little better than the original January version, said the district’s top financial official.Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Micaela Ochoa told the school board at its May 21 meeting that, although the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase in the state budget is $154,000 lower than in January for the 2019/20 school year, it will be offset by an increase in the state’s pickup of a little more of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) contribution. The exact amount is not known yet, because the governor is still negotiating with the Legislature over trailer bills for funding.
That means the contribution from the district would be going down, a positive for the district, said Ochoa.
Also, the state’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), which affects classified employees, such as administrative assistants, custodians and others, will receive a larger contribution from the state budget.
Although the change was positive overall for PUSD since January, and the exact numbers are not known, it does not represent a significant improvement, said Ochoa.
PUSD is a client of School Services of California, which tracks state budget changes and important legislation for school districts. President and CEO John Gray attended the school board meeting with slides that showed how California is doing in its effort to fund public education.
According to a February 2018 study by Rutgers University and the Education Law Center, California ranks 32nd in the nation at $8900 per student. That represents about 66% of 10-ranked Delaware’s $13,600 per student, based on data from 2015.
In terms of ability to pay, California’s per capita personal income of $44,100 is above the national average, but it provides only $34 for each $1000 of personal income to support schools. That earned California an F in the report, titled “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card.“
By contrast, New York received a comparable per capita personal income of $46,400, but provided $55 for each $1,000 of personal income, earning an A grade.
New Mexico also received an A. Despite lower personal income of $36,800, the state provided $48 for each $1000.
Board Vice-president Steve Maher asked Gray whether he expects school funding, which depends on the California economy, to get better or not. Gray replied that the nation is in the longest growth expansion in the history of the economy. A lot of things can happen, including changes in trade imbalance with China.
Preparing for a change in the economy would be a good idea, said Gray. He added that since California sits at 32nd in the nation in education support from state funds, “that’s why it’s good to have partners like PPIE.”
P.P.I.E. GIVES RECORD AMOUNT TO DISTRICT
Top officials of Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE) were at the meeting to donate $711,000 to the district, the largest in the three-year history of the campaigns headed by Executive Director Steve McCoy-Thompson, who was hired in 2017.
McCoy-Thompson oversaw 23% growth between 2017 and 2018, and 10% further growth between 2018 and 2019.
More than half of PPIE revenue came from the giving fund, which consists of donations by parents. Their participation climbed from 17% last year to 22% this year, although it still fell short of the eventual goal of more than 50%, said PPIE Board President Steve Hilton.
The past year saw an increase in matching funds by corporations, as donors favored increasing their contributions more than in the past, said Hilton.
Community events were responsible for more than 25% of the donations. These included the Run for Education, held April 14, which raised a net $115,000, and Night of the Stars, Oct. 12, 2018, at Castlewood Country Club. It raised a net $71,000 revenue, said PPIE Vice-president Kelly French. New PPIE events manager Tanya Ludden supervised both events.
The funds donated this year will help the district fund a student assistance provider position at the district level.
“The idea is to develop a student-centered approach to assess anxiety and stress, especially the peer advocacy program at Foothill. We would like to build that out, and extend it to Amador Valley. Potentially we would like to get the kids into classrooms to teach other kids that it’s OK not to be OK,” said McCoy-Thompson.
Other programs to receive PPIE funding include teacher and student grants, Outdoor Education buses, Village High School, high school support counselors, and increased library and tech support.