Today at school sites throughout the District, leaflets were passed out titled “Support Our Students, Support Our Teachers.” As parents and community members of Petaluma, I want to provide you some context to this leaflet and critical information you should know on this issue.
Petaluma City Schools is 100% committed to working towards maintaining competitive compensation for all employees. We do not believe in an “Us” versus “Them” model for any employee group and have worked hard to build consensus around this concept. There are four important points that I want all parents and community members to know:
We must eliminate our structural deficit (on-going expenses greater than revenues) of approximately $1.5 million over the next two years. Our Board, Superintendent, and Chief Business Official cannot sign off on a positive budget to the Sonoma County Office of Education until the deficit is addressed. State regulations require that we cannot offer compensation without the revenue to support it.
The main contributing factor to the deficit is that school districts throughout the state are facing fiscal challenges due to an unanticipated increase of District pension costs ($825,000 in 2016-17, $1,600,000 in 2017-18 and $2,400,000 in 2018-19). It is important to note that the State of California unilaterally imposed these costs onto school districts to keep the employee pension systems solvent.
The good news is that the District has made great progress towards reducing the deficit, but has more work to do. With the education of our students as our top priority, we will strive to make thoughtful budget decisions without sacrificing quality in program. Also, we have asked all bargaining units to join us in working with legislators in Sacramento to address the statewide pension issue.
In the meantime, I want to encourage any parents and community members to attend our regular Budget Advisory Committee meetings who are actively working towards addressing the budget issues. The next meeting is April 20, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. in the Board Room. We will also be presenting information at the next School Board meeting on April 11, 2017. The budget presentation is not anticipated to begin until after 6:45 p.m.
I hope this information helps you to better understand our situation. It is only together that we will be able to effectively meet this challenge.
For more information on the pension relief crisis, I encourage you to go to the following link from the California School Boards Association: