The District did an in-depth feasibility study several years ago of the 4-day week concept. Some districts use this schedule, but they are in small, rural areas where the majority of parents work in their homes primarily farming or ranching. In Pasadena ISD, most parents work in businesses so they would be required to find child care on the off days. In addition, the savings for most districts has been minimal-primarily for utilities and transportation.
How will reductions in force affect special needs children?
State law protects many of the programs for special needs students, but we would protect them also since it is what is best for them. We will be combining some small programs and there may be a greater student to teacher ratio and fewer aides in some programs. The cuts are necessary to make better use of our resources, but the programs will still be offered.
Can the District use part of its fund balance so that the reductions in force aren't as deep?
The Board has already approved use of a portion of our fund balance to cover the proposed reduction in state funding. There are two important parameters that constrain the use of more. We will have to use the same amount from our fund balance next year as we use this year to make up the difference of state funding. If we use approximately $7.5 million this year and then an additional $7.5 million next year, our fund balance will be at the amount that the state requires us to keep in there. If an emergency, such as a hurricane, occurs, we would not be able to cover it without going below the state required amount.
Has the District considered a sales tax increase?
By law, the District cannot levy a sales tax.
Has the District considered selling ad space on buses?
We are selling bus advertising now but the funds it has provided to this date have been minimal. Of course, if anyone is interested in advertising, you can contact Steep Creek Media who is marketing the bus ad space for us so that we don't have to use personnel to do so.
Can the District increase property tax?
We can increase property taxes by a total of 13¢ per $100 but only with a vote by taxpayers. The problem is that the lack of state funding is not a short-term problem. The problem probably isn't going to be eliminated during this legislative session so we have to maximize funds available to us for the next 4 years. A tax rate increase is probably inevitable within the next two years. We could possibly raise $23 million but what would happen to us in the years to come? We also don't know if we could get enough public support for a tax increase during this economic downturn.
Is the District going to cut the number of administrators?
A significant portion of the cuts we have made over the past 3 years have been in administrative positions and administrative budgets. This year, we are cutting 12 more administrative positions including the Associate Superintendent of Facilities. We always maintain a much lower administrative cost ratio than that of the State standard. The State standard is 11.05% of total costs while Pasadena ISD maintains our administrative cost ratio at approximately 4.7%. Administrative costs represent less than 1% of the district's overall budget.
Is there a set procedure for a reduction in force?
By Board policy, we review certification first. If all persons have the same certification, we then look at performance. If performance of all individuals is equal, seniority is the next factor in determination.
Why is there still some building going on when we are losing state funding?
The Carmen Orozco Staff Development Center is being paid for through the remaining portion of the 2004 bond program. By law, we cannot use funds provided by a bond program (which gives us the I & S portion of our budget) to pay for salaries and supplies. We are also completing work on the front of the Administration Building since the supporting structure was corroded and had become a danger. To provide our students with the skills they need to compete in our global economy we will continue to have needs for renovating facilities, for technology, and even for new facilities.
Is the District giving a retirement incentive?
Legally, districts can no longer offer retirement incentives. Some districts are giving early notification of resignation incentives but we have faith that our staff will do what is ethically
right and let us know as early as possible if they will not be returning. We generally have about 300 teachers who resign each year due to retirement, moves, or other personal reasons. We are hoping that many of those who are affected in the reduction in force will be able to fill one of these positions.
Are our Pre-k programs going to be affected?
The pre-k programs that may be affected are those full-day programs provided by grants. Only 1 of our campuses has a full day program at this time and it is not funded by the grant. There should be no change in our pre-K program.
Why doesn't the district move the transportation limit for buses from 1 mile to 2 miles?
Moving the transportation boundary is a balancing act between the additional money that we can save in gasoline versus the additional money we lose for student attendance (ADA). When students don't come to school because the weather is too bad to walk, they can't learn and we lose state funding for them.
What will the student to teacher ratio be? How can this be best for our students?
There is nothing about the funding cuts to public education that is good for students. With approximately 85% of all school district budgets allocated to personnel costs, we cannot reach the funding cuts necessary without reducing staff.
We will have an increased teacher to student ratio at all levels. Kindergarten through fourth grade is set by the state at 22:1 but, if necessary, we will be asking for a waiver from the state for higher ratios in some classrooms. Grades 4 and 5 will have a 24:1 ratio while grades 6 and up will have a 26:1 ratio. This does not mean that every class will have this number of students. It may be more or less depending on the subject matter and the number of students who want or need a class. We are also looking at other options to provide students with classes including virtual school and utilizing a teacher at multiple schools.
How soon will we know what level of cuts we will have to make?
We will not know for certain until after the legislative session in June.
Is the District going to cut golf, tennis, and swimming?
We were reviewing this possibility only if more severe budget reductions are required; however, we are revisiting this option and, if required, look at more cuts across the board athletically. It is important to note that other athletic programs are already experiencing changes due to budget cuts to the athletic department.
Why is the District looking at making cuts to the police department when safety is so important?