School board to vote on revised budget | News | Palo Alto Online |


School board to vote on revised budget

Staff to present multiple proposals to make up this year's deficit

School district staff are asking the Board of Education to vote on a series of changes for the 2017-18 budget in the wake of a contractual error that will cost the district $6 million in unbudgeted employee raises.

At the board's meeting on Tuesday, trustees will discuss a revised budget that now includes the cost of a 3 percent raise ($4.5 million) and 2 percent bonus ($3 million) for all teachers and classified staff. Just before the new school year started in August, the district realized that senior leadership had missed a critical deadline in its union contracts: to formally reopen negotiations by March 15 given property tax revenue had come in below a certain level.

The proposed 2017-18 budget has a deficit of $3.8 million.

Based on board members' comments during a budget discussion earlier this month, the revised budget does not forecast any salary increases for employees until 2021. For projection purposes, a 1 percent raise is included in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years for all employee groups. 

Staff will present three new budget scenarios on Tuesday. Two have slightly more conservative property tax revenue estimates — 4 percent for next year and 3 percent in the out years versus 5 percent next year and 4 percent in the out years. The most recent property tax estimate from the Santa Clara County Controller's Office came in at 6.52 percent last month.

The board will also consider approving an increase in personnel costs for this budget — $702,000 to cover a new district-level Title IX coordinator, a special-education coordinator, volunteer coordinators at the high schools, two teaching positions and a high-school custodian. The board voted at its Sept. 12 meeting to move the Title IX coordinator, a likely reoccurring cost to support required reform of the district's handling of sexual misconduct, into the district's operating budget.

In response to several board members' opposition to using a $6 million reserve fund set aside for opening new schools to pay out the bonus and these additional expenditures, staff will present several options for making up this year's deficit.

One proposal is to use the new school fund to pay for the one-time bonus and six teachers the board approved in June to mitigate large class sizes at the secondary schools.

The other is to only use the new school fund to pay a 1 percent bonus and the six teachers in the current year, with the "assumption" that the district will be "talking" with the teachers union about the bonus, a staff report states. The district could also tap a state discretionary grant earmarked for textbook adoptions — estimated to be less costly over the next several years — to pay for a 1 percent bonus.

A proposed hiring freeze for the district's communications coordinator position, which was vacated just before the new school year started by Jorge Quintana, would save the district about $175,000 this year. Superintendent Max McGee has previously said he does not intend to fill the position.

In other business Tuesday, board members will discuss their search for a replacement for McGee, who plans to retire at the end of the year. They are also set to remedy several Brown Act violations by approving contracts for two new district hires and two years of compensation increases for McGee in open session on Tuesday.

The board will also take action on request for proposals (RFP) for a consultant to support the school district and city's joint master planning for Cubberley Community Center. The City Council authorized staff to issue a RFP in a 7-1 vote earlier this month.

At the request of a community member, the board will also review a letter of findings issued by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights this spring detailing the district's Title IX violations in several cases at Paly and Gunn high schools.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the full agenda here.


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4 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Sounds like the board is making solid progress for next year. Best of luck finding a new superintendent, it's a very tough job to fill.

10 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm

"They are also set to remedy several Brown Act violations by approving contracts for two new district hires and two years of compensation increases for McGee in open session on Tuesday."

Wait. What?

Raises for McGee? You kidding me?

6 people like this
Posted by If this is progress...
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

@Thurber - if this is what "solid progress" looks like, I'd hate to see what you'd call a "c**p show"! Budget screw-up, OCR supervision, expensive investigation finding law and policy violations up to the highest levels, culture of no documentation - and it's only September! Yep, things are really moving along nicely!

4 people like this
Posted by Buried the lead
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Central Administration and the school board are finally getting around to talking about the OCR's March 2017 Letter of Finding.

It lays out what OCR found during 3 years investigating Paly after the Verde "Rape Culture" story went to print, most of it relating to sexual harassment and assaults involving Paly staff and students that happened before last year's bathroom incident.

Web Link.

Start on page 11 or read the Weekly's synopsis of it: Web Link "OCR findings: A repeated failure to properly investigate / Federal agency details school district's improper handling of sexual harassment complaints, incidents over three-year period"

Here's something OCR discovered that is no longer a surprise but is still deeply troubling: "district was not following its own policy requirement to record all reported cases of sexual harassment."

12 people like this
Posted by You have failed our kids
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 6:19 pm

And by you, I mean you teachers who have remained as silent about your accidental raise as you have about the latest suicide. I also mean you that voted in Melissa Baten Caswell again, even after she was part of the group that freely spent thousands of dollars to write up a letter of protest as if our problems were caused by the OCR. Shame on you all.

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