In a meeting with retiring Associate Superintendent Malliga Tholandi, I learned that PUSD really is in a good financial position, despite the “location problem” we have. She says “location problem” because in the old state funding system called Revenue Limited Funding, beach cities were favored because of property tax revenue plus the standard $120/student annual funding from the state. In the new system of LCFF, the border cities get more aid funding because 50% of their students fit into the categories of low income, English learners, or foster care. But she stressed that “our core is strong” because we have very high attendance rates (maximizing our per-student funding) we have a very supportive community, and our budget allocations are all based on clear funding formulas.
She showed me some examples of how PUSD has to make real adjustments to compensate for the reduced revenue we get compared to other similar districts. For example, PUSD spends less than similar USDs when it comes to certified and classified staff. We also offer significantly reduced benefits packages tot hose employees. If you look at the table, you can see that while we are lower in all categories, our bigger cuts (or savings) are through significant reductions with “services and operating expenditures”. Despite our reduced revenue sources, we manage to allocate a near equitable amount to books and supplies (93% of comparable districts).
I left her office confident that there are systems in place to ensure that PUSD will remain a top tier public school district, even after she retires.