District anticipates revenue loss for the coming year

Superintendent Booker’s May 4 email to families warns of likely funding reductions from the state as a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown. Excerpts from Superintendent’s email are below. First the good news.

From Superintendent Booker:

In Good News

As today kicks off Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for all that our teachers do to support, teach, and nurture our students!  While I wish we could celebrate in person, please join me in expressing how much we value our teachers … ESPECIALLY during this time of distance learning!!  They’re awesome!

For Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m asking our community a question a day to help showcase all that teachers do for our students. Please use these graphics to share on your own social channels, and remember to use the hashtag #ThankATeacher!

Schools NOT Starting Early

Governor Newsom outlines stage two; timeline for reopening schools not accelerated (posted by the California School Boards Association)

At today’s press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that stage two of the four-stage plan to reopen society would begin at the end of the week, with detailed guidance to be released Thursday, May 7. Newsom said adjustments to retail operations as well as the supports and logistics surrounding them would be the first to experience an easing of restrictions. Nonessential retail operations such as those that sell books, clothing, flowers, music, toys and sporting goods may start operating again, through a curbside pick-up model.

Gov. Newsom also said that certain regions and counties may be able to open up further — perhaps even including some restaurants — depending on local circumstances. These areas can consider additional modifications if the counties can self-assess and self-verify with both the county public health official and county supervisor that it meets the following capacity requirements: testing and tracing, enforcing physical distancing and sanitation, protecting the most vulnerable in the community and providing personal protective equipment to employees.

In a subsequent press release, the Governor’s office noted that the timeline for reopening schools has not been accelerated and added that he is working with school districts and education leaders throughout the state to determine when on-campus instruction can resume.

“This is a very positive sign and it’s happened only for one reason — the data says it can happen,” Newsom said. “But we recognize, as we begin to modify, possible community spread may occur. If that’s the case and we do not have the capacity to control that spread, to trace that spread, to isolate individuals that may have come into contact with COVID-19, we will have to make modifications anew.”

The Bad News

Update on the Budget for Education

Last week was extremely busy with communications, articles, and updates about the 2020-21 budget expectations.  We won’t have definitive information until the release of the May Revise (May 14th) from the Governor’s Office and the California Department of Education, but indicators are clearly pointing to serious funding reductions.

The final variable needed to complete the cost of living adjustment (COLA) calculation came in. The result is a COLA of 2.31%, which is higher than the January estimate of 2.29%.  However, that does not mean the LCFF formula (or what we receive from the state in terms of revenue) will be increased by 2.31%. There is an “autofit” provision in State law that allows the Department of Finance to fit the COLA to what the State can afford.  It is very likely that the DOF will reduce the COLA to 0%, and also likely that they may reduce it even further.  School Services (an advocacy resource for educational agencies in California) is anticipating this reduction to go below 0% to a reduction in the per pupil amount that they fund.

Not only is it unlikely that districts will receive the 2.31% COLA funding, the COVD-19 related economic losses at the state and federal level mean additional school funding sources are at risk (“Great Recession” cuts indicated by the yellow line)

John Grey from School Services posted an easy-to-understand video that describes this; he harkens back to the Great Recession and the “alligator” chart that demonstrates the gap between the COLA and what schools actually get.

Over the last week, there have been several articles (links below) on the subject of school funding as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the national, state, and local education budgets. I am sure you’ve been reading many of the same articles as I have, but I wanted to make sure that you are able to see what many are predicting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past 3 days, I’ve spoken directly with our Assemblyperson Buffy Wicks and Senator Barbara Lee’s education staffer to express our deep concerns about the budget and what the state and federal government can do to support Piedmont and all school districts across the state.

I bring all of this to your attention to not only let you know what we’re likely to face, but to also inform you that we are working with the Board, administrators, and our teachers and classified staff to actively communicate what we learn and the steps we’ll need to possibly take to mitigate anticipated revenue loss and the resulting programmatic reductions and changes as a result.

Tracking the PUSD Budget Discussions

Our timeline for discussions and decisions are the following:

  • May 14th – May Revise … we hope to learn more details about anticipated reductions in state funding.
  • Week of May 18th – The District will communicate to all staff the ramifications of the May Revise to the PUSD Budget for 2020-2021.  This may include proposed programmatic reductions and changes as a result.
  • May 21st – PUSD Budget Advisory Committee Meeting — The District will communicate and discuss with the community and staff the ramifications of the May Revise to the PUSD Budget for 2020-2021.  This may also include proposed programmatic reductions and changes as a result.  All are welcome to (virtually) attend.
  • May 27th – Regularly scheduled PUSD Board of Education meeting.  If budget reductions are necessary, district staff will present the ramifications of the May Revise to the PUSD Budget for 2020-2021.  This may also include proposed programmatic reductions and changes as a result.  All are welcome to (virtually) attend.
  • June 10th – Regularly scheduled PUSD Board of Education meeting.  District staff will present the 1st reading of the 2020-2021 Budget and Multi-Year Projection (21-22 & 22-23).  No action will be taken.  The Board will discuss and review public comment.
  • June 24th – Regularly scheduled PUSD Board of Education meeting.  District staff will present the 2nd reading of the 2020-2021 Budget and Multi-Year Projection (21-22 & 22-23) and ask the Board of Education to adopt.
  • Per Education Code, school districts are required to adopt their budgets (including the multi-year projection) prior to July 1st.

I know this is not positive news, but we will continue to work together to address the budget issues in front of us.  Please don’t hesitate to reach-out if you have any questions.


Randall Booker, Superintendent

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