WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Unified School District on Wednesday approved a budget report which shows the district reducing its deficit spending, and holding onto its required 3 percent reserve, even as it watches its ending fund balance drop for the next three years.
In addition, the report shows about a one-percent variance between revenues and expenditures from what the district estimated in June.
The unaudited actuals report is a summary of fiscal activity for the previous fiscal year through June. All school districts in California are required to submit the report to their overseeing county agency by Sept. 15. The report is submitted to the Santa Cruz County Office of Education for review. The COE is not required by law to certify the report, but will provide analysis and public comment.
According to PVUSD Chief Business Officer Joe Dominguez, the ending fund balance for this year dropped $780,000 from the estimates posted in June, thanks largely to pay increases approved earlier this year for teachers and school workers.
“We’re spending today’s dollars on today’s students,” Dominguez said. “We’re putting that money to work.”
According to Dominguez, the district finished the 2017-18 school year with $39.9 million, a number that drops to $29.9 million at the end of this year. The ending fund balance will be $21.6 million in 2019-20 and $15.6 million the next year.
The district’s required 3 percent reserve holds steady for those years, Dominguez said.
Trustee Jeff Ursino praised Dominguez and the district’s financial team for keeping the budget close to what they had estimated.
But Ursino expressed concern that the district is still deficit spending, and said that the lowered reserves are not enough of a cushion to weather financial calamity.
“It’s only a mater of time before the next recession hits,” Ursino said. “I don’t think it’s time to say we’re done. There is a lot more work to do.”
In other news, the trustees heard a report that the district has indemnified the City of Watsonville from legal liabilities that might arise from construction of the athletic field at Pajaro Valley High School.
Pajaro Valley High School has lacked a field since its construction in 2003. The final legal hurdle was removed in September 2017 when the Watsonville Pilots Association withdrew its objections to the project after the district agreed to redraw the field inside the footprint of the school.
The plans call for an eight-lane track and football field, bleachers for up to 2,200 people and a concession and restroom building. The facility will replace the school’s current practice field on an eight-acre lot near its entrance.
The Watsonville City Council approved the project on April 24, with the stipulation that the district indemnify the city in the event of legal troubles. A 30-day period followed in which anyone could register their objections.
That period expired on May 11.
PVUSD is still in the process of selecting a contractor, and a decision is expected during the Sept. 26 board of trustees meeting. It is unclear when construction will begin.
“This moves us one step closer to having a field at Pajaro Valley High,” Board President Leslie De Rose said.