Poway Unified Ending School Year With Positive Balance, Reserves

Poway Unified School District is looking toward a more positive budget for the 2021-22 school year, according to a first reading at its board meeting last Thursday.

PUSD will also likely end this school year with a rosier outlook than predicted in March, due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May state budget revisions. A final state budget has not yet been implemented and changes might be made before the district’s budget is finalized at the June 22 meeting, said Joy Ramiro, director of finance.

The district’s estimated actual budget for 2020-21 includes $453.8 million in revenues, which is $27.1 million higher than reported in March. It also predicts expenditures of $428.3 million, or about $1.4 million less than in March. This is in part due to state and federal COVID-19 relief funds, said Ron Little, associate superintendent of business support services. PUSD will have a 2020-21 ending balance of about $80 million, $30.5 million higher than the second interim budget in March. The reserve level should be about $29 million, or 7 percent. The state requires school districts to maintain a 2 percent reserve level for unexpected expenses, but board members have stated at past meetings they prefer to keep a reserve level closer to 10 percent.

Little said some of the COVID funding was used to offset expenditures, with some left over. About $19 million of the district’s Expanded Learning Opportunities grant will also carry over to next year, where it will count as an expenditure.

Schools statewide have dealt with a declining student population this past school year, as students were pulled out of public schools and enrolled in private and charter schools or homeschooled, Little said. About 160,000 K-12 students left public schools statewide in 2020-21, as opposed to 20,000 to 30,000 in an average year. He added PUSD lost a little under 1,000 students, and it is assumed it will take about two years to recover that amount of students. Fiscal assumptions for 2021-22 show PUSD regaining about 331 students to put it at about 36,000 students enrolled districtwide.

PUSD will also face several expense increases next year, including Public Employees Retirement System, State Teachers Retirement System, State Unemployment Insurance plus health and welfare rate increases. This will add about $7 million in additional annual ongoing costs for PUSD, Little said.

Thanks to state funds, 2021-22’s budget has several new items benefitting students and staff. These include one-time class size reductions for grades four and five (from a maximum of 31 students to a maximum of 29) and a one-time class size reduction for middle and high schools. PUSD is also adding additional mental health support in the form of counselors, psychologists, nurses, social workers and additional student services staff. Also part of the additional budget items for 2021-22 include expanded summer school, before and after school tutoring, its new K-8 virtual schooling option Connect Academy, and professional learning for staff.

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Source : https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/pomerado-news/news/schools/story/2021-06-10/poway-unified-ending-school-year-with-positive-balance-reserves

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