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.