Palo Alto schools expect $2.3 million from feds

District expects $2.3 million from education jobs act plus more from property taxes

The Palo Alto Unified School District expects a $2.3 million distribution of federal funds to help ease its financial woes.

The money will come from the $10 billion federal education jobs appropriation signed last month by President Barack Obama. The outlay is projected to save 161,000 public school jobs nationwide, and 16,500 such jobs in California.

Unlike many financially pressed school districts across the state, Palo Alto did not lay off teachers this year.

However, the district did cut $3.8 million – or about 2.5 percent -- from its operating budget in February.

The largest single piece of those cuts, $600,000, was achieved by bumping up the maximum class size to 22 in kindergarten-through-third grade classes and to 24 in in grades 4 and 5. Other significant cuts came from reducing principals' discretionary funds and eliminating about 10 full-time-equivalent support positions.

News of the federal funds came in a budget update presented to the Board of Education Tuesday by co-chief business officer Cathy Mak.

Mak said additional revenue also is expected to come to the district through property tax revenues that are now projected to be $2.3 million higher than projections that were made in June.

However, Mak said the district still will have to tap into a $9.1 million "undesignated fund balance" to bridge expected deficits for the next three years.

By 2014-2015, when those funds are exhausted, she projects a $3.1 million "structural deficit."

Uncertainties for this year remain in the final outcome of the state budget, final property tax revenues and health benefit costs, she said.

Additionally, continued enrollment growth cuts into per-pupil spending since much of the district's funds come from property tax, not per-pupil allocations from the state.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm

well, it's taxpayers' money, not "federal" money in any case.
I have mixed feelings about this, it's hard to believe PA is appropriate to receive money related to saving public school jobs - compared to the needs in many other areas of the country, which are MUCH more hard-pressed. I suppose it's a sign of Congressional power to obtain these funds and we should be grateful we have that here...however I believe we are taxed too much and government spending on all levels is generally not efficient and I would rather they audit and correct that.

Like this comment
Posted by hmmm
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm

yup,..agree with you anonymous.

the only comfort I have is that per capita we pay far more in Fed Taxes than most areas of the nation..but still, I am very unhappy about the whole Feds getting involved in education in the first place. Should be up to the States alone. Most folks don't even know we didn't have Fed involvement until just about ..what..30 years ago? ..1979.

Odd that we had great education nationally until then..and California was first in the nation..and now where are we?

Not blaming the Feds..but perhaps it is simply part of the bigger picture of less and less local and individual accountability and the destruction of social fabric.

Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:48 am

A billion here, a billion there, multi-millions everywhere, and billions in 'foreign aid' to every tin horn country that a government official visits - Congress speaks now in billions, not millions- the country is broke, and China owns the bonds. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal government any nose into education or health care or any other area which it takes over under the guise of the "Commerce Clause" - one of Anna Eshoo's favorite excuses. The "No Child Left Behind Act" is a nightmare for the nation's school districts, particularly for those states struggling with the children of illegal immigrants. To my knowledge, NO state has ever challenged the Federal government's take over of states' control over education. States are doing it now re: health care. Time for every citizen to study the Constitution and insist on its enforcement.

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