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January 31, 2023

PVUSD budget shows declining enrollment

WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Unified School District on Wednesday approved a budget report, which shows revenue dropping thanks to decreasing enrollment.

According to PVUSD Chief Business Officer Joe Dominguez, the district has 340 fewer students than last year, far more than the 191 district officials predicted would be lost to a new charter school that opened in August.

Other students moved from the area, said PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez.

“They are going to other states that are just cheaper to live in,” she said.

While the district still maintains the 3 percent reserve required by the state, it is spending its additional 3 percent reserve — about $6.83 million — on the new athletic field at Pajaro Valley High School.

In addition, the ending fund balance this year will be just over $10 million, a massive decrease compared to $27 million from last year.

The reduction in ending balance and reserve reminded trustee Kim DeSerpa of the cuts necessary during the 2008 economic recession.

“What makes me very nervous is that we’re cutting very close to the bone on the budget,” DeSerpa said. “I am concerned that we don’t really have anywhere to go, and no real projected revenues.”

In a bit of good news, the budget also shows less than a 1 percent difference between revenues and expenditures from what the district estimated in June. Districts see a low ‘variance’ as a sign of sound fiscal management.

Dominguez praised staff for the 0.27 percent variance.

“That is teamwork at its best and I commend everyone in doing so,” he said.

The unaudited actuals report is a summary of fiscal activity for the previous fiscal year through June, and gives district officials a first look at the year’s $186.7 million budget.

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 (COE) for review. The COE is not required to certify the report, but often provides analysis.

In other action, the trustees approved an increase to the developer fees it charges for new housing projects in the district.

The 10 cent increase to $5.57 per square foot is expected to raise about $2.97 million over five years.

Developer fees are used for projects such as classroom modernization, furniture, playgrounds and athletic fields. According to Dominguez, 369 of the 1060 classrooms district-wide are in need of modernization.


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