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School board gives feedback on budget cutbacks for next year

Original post made on Oct 19, 2016

The Palo Alto school board mostly refrained from giving line-item feedback on a list of potential budget cutbacks for the next school year at a special meeting Tuesday morning, save in a few categories that board members characterized as being too close to the classroom.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 4:43 PM

Comments (3)

Posted by Cathy Mak's performance is pretty disappointing
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2016 at 11:05 am

Cathy Mak's performance is pretty disappointing is a registered user.

Questions the Weekly might ask:

Why did Cathy Mak not do more thorough due diligence on estimated revenue sources before bringing the budget to the Board for a vote? What due diligence (specifically) did she do? What does her supervisor, Supt. McGee think about this?

Now she says it's too soon to know if we can maintain four percent property tax growth. Does she think counting on 4% growth exemplifies good budgeting practice?

Posted by George Jaquette
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 19, 2016 at 1:06 pm

It is interesting to see how PAUSD compares financially to school districts nearby. Menlo Park has an open online portal where their enrollment is visible, spending by student is calculated, and sources and uses of funds are provided. You can find that portal here:
Web Link
It isn't a perfect comparison, as the district is only K-8 and there are fewer students, but the percentage of the budget spent is broken out for teachers (58%), aides (14%), classified support (8%) and on down to 0.2% for other Certificated teachers. Most of the budget is invested in people who work with the kids every day.
The board is correctly suggesting that the district prioritize funding for the people who interact with the kids first, as well as those who help make them better teachers. It is possible that with shifting enrollment we need to shift teachers from elementary schools to secondary schools, rather than simply declaring that we need more high school teachers next year (we should need correspondingly fewer elementary school teachers).
Cathy Mak was not alone in accepting at face value that property tax revenue was going to increase dramatically, and we can only hope that going forward everyone can adopt a "trust but verify" approach before accepting a rosy property tax forecast. The district budgets present past growth in property tax revenue, which grew greatly from 2003 ($70M) through 2008 before flattening out for four years even as enrollment increased:
2008: $106M, 2009: $109M, 2010:$110M, 2011: $112M
2012: $119M, 2013: $127M, 2014: $137M, 2015: $144M forecasted
Property taxes increase when property valuations increase, but Proposition 13 limits the increase in taxes unless a property changes hands. So many of us love Palo Alto so much that there just aren't that many houses for sale every year, and that reduces tax growth. Caution is necessary, and property values do not always go up. Those who forget the past (2009-2011) are condemned to repeat it.

Posted by failing at the job
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm

This is appalling. The district has known about this self-created budget crisis for MONTHS! How frustrating that the vote for an ill-advised multi-year raise could be pushed through at light-speed but now just getting the necessary INFORMATION from the district takes so-o-o long.

What are all these highly paid district level administrators doing for their buck$$?

"The list presented Tuesday offered about 30 percent in administrative reductions compared to 70 percent in instructional cuts." How can this possibly be appropriate?

Time to CUT Churchill Admin raises! They have not earned it.

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