Q. What has happened to the District's funding over the past few years?
A. If the District was receiving what it is entitled to, based on the revenue limit calculation, there should be funding of $6,413.05 per student for the 2012-13 school year. However, due to state budget cuts the district expects to receive per ADA funding of $4,984.74. The 2012-13 school year will mark the fifth (5th) consecutive year of being underfunded.
Q. With five consecutive years of budget cuts how much money has been diverted from the Pleasant Ridge School District?
A. Approximately $6,595,106.00 in funding cuts has been sustained.
Q. What cuts have already been made?
A. During the 2009-10 school year we closed Pleasant Ridge Elementary School, restructured our GATE and ASP programs, consolidated and streamlined numerous other tasks, eliminated instructional aide time at Magnolia School and administrative positions, as well implementing other strategies. In staffing reductions alone there have been reductions of 30% in administrative staffing, 15% in classified staffing, and 13% in certificated staffing. In the 2009-10 school year alone over $1.2 million dollars in cuts were identified and implemented. During the ensuing time period more budget reductions were made for a total of approximately $2,000,000.00 in spending cuts being enacted since 2009.
Q. What about closing Alta Sierra School to save money?
A. Alta Sierra School will have only two empty classrooms for the 2012-13 school year and we appear to have growth in our Kindergarten and primary age enrollments. Cottage Hill School, at this time only has one classroom available for growth and Magnolia is being utilized at 85% of capacity. The total number of rooms needed by Alta Sierra students exceeds what is available at the remaining two sites. Furthermore, the addition of portable classrooms would require approval from the Department of the State Architect, be a lengthy process, add to traffic issues, and cost about $150,000.00 per portable classroom at a minimum. Lastly, the Alta Sierra site serves a specific geographic area and would result in increased travel time and transportation costs as well.
Q. What about using the District's Reserve Funds to keep things going for a few years?
A. The District was fortunate to have entered the economic downturn with a large reserve. It is exactly that reserve, combined with budget cuts that have allowed all student programming to remain in place. As we enter the 2012-13 school year with no end to the global economic downturn in sight, it is clear that to remain fiscally solvent as a district and provide mandated programs either additional revenue must be generated or additional cuts must be implemented. The District is scheduled to deficit spend by about $800,000.00 in the upcoming school year and by lesser, yet substantial amounts over the next two school years. With few exceptions, the only areas the District has to obtain the level of budgetary reductions needed have a significant impact on both class sizes and programs such as Band, Choir, ASP, Sports, and student elective classes. School districts with less prudent reserves were forced to eliminate these types of programs long ago.
Q. Why not ask parents to pay the cost of participating in such as sports, Band, and Choir?
A. Families can be, and are, asked for donations to offset costs. However, the law is very clear that no child may be denied access to any portion of the curriculum or school activity because of inability to pay. In short, this practice would be illegal.