SPUSD Board of Education President Dr. Suzie Abajian (from left), Clerk Dr. Michele Kipke, Board Member Jon Primuth and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Karen Reed comment on the proposed district budget. Photo by Skye Hannah

The South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) Board of Education met June 11 at the district office to review changes to the LCAP and review the proposed $52 million fiscal year 2019-20 budget for the district.

Christiane Gervais, assistant superintendent of instructional services, presented changes to the 2019-20 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a tool used by local educational agencies to set goals, plan actions and leverage resources to meet those goals to improve student outcomes. LCAP is a three year plan set with a baseline year of 2017-18. The district is currently in the final year.

Among the additions in the LCAP is an exploration of restorative and mindfulness practices, particularly for foster and homeless students.

“The principals are very much looking forward to this exploration next year,” said Gervais.

The plan will also be exploring the feasibility of expanding Dual Immersion language studies to the middle school.

“We ended the year on a good note and we have further investigations to do,” noted Gervais.
“One of those investigations is to develop a parent feedback mechanism.”

Other changes include working on recruiting STEM-focused businesses to join the internship program, expanding the pilot of the new ninth grade English Language Arts (ELA) course and English and math teachers are to engage in professional development to improve at-risk student academic performance.

The libraries across all schools are also set to provide world language books for students to support English learners and immigrant students in their primary languages.

“As we all know, the proficiency in first language means that acquisition of a second language is easier,” Gervais shared.

For the district budget, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Dave Lubs presented the basis of the proposed budget for 2019-20 with future forecasts. Within the budget cycle, the district is in the adopted budget portion.

“There have been no significant changes in the district nor in the May revise that are worth noting above and beyond the January proposal,” said Lubs.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Dave Lubs presented the proposed district budget to the SPUSD Board of Education for 2019-20. Photo by Skye Hannah

Expenditures for 2019-20 total approximately $52 million with 81 percent ($24.6 million) of that amount for salaries and benefits, 14 percent ($7 million) for services, 3 percent ($1.8 million) for supplies, 0.85 percent for capital assets and 0.1 percent for other needs.
“When we do reach situations where we have problem with our budget, it’s very difficult to cut in places when the vast majority is people,” Lubs said.

Revenues for 2019-20 total approximately $50.6 million with 80 percent ($40.4 million) from LCFF, 8 percent ($3.8 million) from federal sources, 6 percent ($3.2 million) from state sources and 6 percent ($3.2 million) from local sources.

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is fully funded. CalSTERS and CalPERS rates continue to rise, with CalSTERs at 16.70 percent for 2019-20, 18.10 percent for 2020-21 and 17.80 percent for 2021-22. CalPERS rates increase from 20.73 percent in 2019-20 to 23.60 percent in 2020-21 and 24.90 percent in 2021-22.

Lubs shared that the three areas of focus in STERS, PERS and Special Education were considered a “challenge” in the work to maintain a balanced budget with the annual cost increases within the current revenue the district is receiving.

Lubs noted that the SPUSD is underfunded and is in “the bottom 10 percent in the state as far as the number of students who qualified for additional funding. As a result of that, we are lower funded per pupil than most other districts in the state. Another reason why we’ve come to reply on our local sources of income.”

The local sources of income were noted as the parcel tax, SPEF, PTA and Boosters.
“Without them, we’d be in trouble,” said Lubs.
For reserves, California requires a 3 percent reserve. SPUSD is projected to have a 7 percent total reserve for 2019-20, 6.8 percent for 2020-21 and 8 percent for 2021-22. One percent is approximately $500,000.

The district is also expected to receive approximately $1.15 million in additional funds for 2019-20 above and beyond 2018-19. According to Lubs, the three primary contributions come from contributions to the textbook fund, deferred maintenance and retiree benefits. The majority of the other increases were noted as beyond the district’s control, such as pension increases, health benefits, teacher incentives as well as special education cost increases.

Committees are currently still in the process of meeting to settle final details. The proposed budget is expected to be adopted at the next meeting at the district office June 25 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will also include estimated actuals.

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