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February 28, 2021

PVUSD’s budget improves, charter school granted more classrooms

WATSONVILLE—Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s budget has improved somewhat since the summer, when grim projections showed the district possibly unable to meet expenses for the next three years.

The district’s Board of Trustees heard the news in a budget update on Wednesday.

That situation, known as a qualified budget, is uncommon for PVUSD, although it has occurred a handful of times in the past decade or so.

Districts that find themselves with a qualified budget too often—or even worse, a negative certification budget meaning they are definitely unable to meet expenses—can face stricter oversight from their governing agencies.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced this year’s budget in January, it showed that tax revenues are coming in faster and higher than expected—to the tune of $20 billion. This means about $5.8 million for PVUSD and the possibility that the district will be able to submit a budget with a positive certification to the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.

“The state is recovering faster than they expected,” said PVUSD Chief Business Officer Clint Rucker.

The money, which comes in the form of a 3.84 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), will help the district offset increases to health and welfare increases, as well as rising step-and-column and retirement costs, Rucker said.

The news means that the district will not have to lay off any employees, he said.

“We want employees to keep their jobs, especially during this crisis, and I think this COLA can help us achieve that,” he said.

In other action, the trustees approved the purchase of three portable classrooms at E.A. Hall Middle School to accommodate increased numbers of students at Watsonville Prep School, a charter currently housed there.

The school, run by Hollister-based Navigator Schools, was scheduled to move into the former Gottschalks building on Main Street during summer 2021. But construction delays have pushed that date to December, Rucker said.

When Watsonville Prep does move, PVUSD can use the trailers for other schools, Rucker said. The trailers cost $120,000.

Navigator was approved in October to move in to the building at 407 Main St.

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