So Pas School Board Back in the Black, School Officials Say

The So Pas School Board has apparently turned things around fiscally, going from a budget deficit to a solid reserve along with across-the-board raises, according to school officials.

“This is a significant accomplishment,” said Dr. Geoff Yantz, Schools’ Superintendent, at a recent School Board meeting.

The School Board gave a two-percent salary increase to all employees – teachers, classified and unrepresented employees – according to Karen Reed, SPUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.

“Every year, we negotiate a budget with the union based on our projected revenues,” she said at the board’s Aug. 14th meeting.

Yantz said that it’s important to retain teachers over a period of time because that continuity provides the best quality of education.

School Board President Jon Primuth agreed.

“We are pleased to provide our employees with a two percent raise while continuing to ensure competitive salaries and maintaining a reasonable level of reserves,” Primuth said.

School Board Member Michele Kipke said it is “phenomenal” what has been done in eliminating the operating deficit.

Just two months ago, the board was laying off teachers because of an anticipated decline in enrollment along with budgetary restraints. The layoffs were ultimately reversed, the teachers reinstated, and the budget picture apparently brightened to where now a raise is in place and a deficit is eliminated, according to school officials.

“The budget this year is very tight, but we are thrilled to be able to provide our teachers and staff with a two percent increase,” Kipke said. “They are worth that and so much more.”

Yantz said the eight percent reserve is projected not only for this year but for the next two years as well.

“We found a way to cut where we could still be able to add some programs,” Yantz said. Under the board’s strategic goals, a new curriculum has greatly expanded programs in design, visual, and media arts, biomedicine, engineering, business and finance, and computer science.

One of the main challenges facing SPUSD, Yantz said, is the dramatic difference between what it receives versus larger districts in the state.

“We’re in the bottom half,” he said.

That’s why one of the big issues moving forward is the funding the District will receive from the state, said Yantz.

“Our expenses will exceed our budget in two or three years based on what we get now from the state government,” Yantz said. California is 43rd overall amongst states for educational spending, according to school officials.

The board’s operating budget is about $50 million pulled from local, state, and federal sources, according to data provided by school officials. Local sources represent between 8-10 percent of revenues and include $2.3 million from Measure S, $800,000 from South Pasadena Educational Foundation, $600,000 from PTA, $350,000 from property rental, $350,000 from facility use and rental, and $200,000 from the Booster Club.

“We have tremendous community support,” said Yantz.

Steve Whitmore contributed to this report