Saddled with declining enrollment, the Pasadena Unified school board Thursday will consider “painful” cuts to reduce projected spending by more than $10 million, including shutting down three schools — Cleveland and Franklin elementary schools and Wilson Middle School.
The board will not take any action Thursday, the Pasadena Star-News reported. Rather, it will study options presented by staff and advisory groups as part of its fiscal stability plan.
The district needs to make $10.1 million in cuts for the 2020-21 school year, district interim Chief of Business Eva Lueck wrote in a report cited by the Star-News. Any closures would occur after this school year.
The budget discussions come as the Pasadena Unified School District continues to grapple with rising costs and declining state funding, which is based largely on enrollment, according to the Star-News. The district lost 500 students this year alone and expects to lose $5.4 million in state dollars by 2020-21, Superintendent Brian McDonald wrote in an email to parents, according to the newspaper.
“We can no longer afford to maintain smaller schools,” he wrote, the Star-News reported. “Cuts are painful and they will impact every sector of our budget. However, the board and management team are committed to making cuts as far away from our core instructional programs as possible.”
If all of the dozens of reductions are accepted by the board, it would result in $10.8 to $11.2 million in savings, so the board will indeed have options to meet its targeted 3 percent budget cuts.
Here are the school-closure recommendations devised by a community advisory committee, according to the Star-News:
– Close Wilson Middle School and transfer its programs to Washington STEAM and Blair middle schools. This would save an estimated $939,024 to $1.4 million;
– Close Cleveland Elementary School and transfer its programs to Washington Accelerated School. This would save an estimated $258,473 to $354,667;
– Close Franklin Elementary School and transfer its programs to Altadena Elementary School. This would save an estimated $384,950 to $565,994.
The projected savings take into account layoffs, facilities and maintenance costs, according to the Star-News. It also factors in the potential loss of revenues should families leave the district.
The campuses could be repurposed for other uses.
Since the 2016-17 school year, Cleveland’s enrollment has declined 46 percent to 99 students this year. Franklin has lost one-quarter of its students over the same amount of time and currently has 183 pupils. Wilson’s population has decreased 15 percent, and enrollment there stands at 485, according to the report.
Other choices include restructuring athletics positions and duties (saving $240,000 annually), laying off elementary arts teachers ($558,579 annually) and restructuring the warehouse system that delivers supplies to schools, the Star-News reported. The district hopes to reduce the budget for that system by $145,000 by looking at different methods of ordering and delivering supplies.