WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a plan to use $19.4 million in one-time funds to repair roofs and bathrooms, replace furniture, purchase textbooks and help the district reduce its deficit spending.
If ratified by the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, the money will also mean a one-time $1,600 “off salary schedule” payment for teachers.
The subject of the $19.4 million had some teachers scratching their heads.
PVFT Chief Negotiator Jack Carroll has pointed out that the district has historically understated its projected ending balance. Budget projections from the beginning of the year, for example, showed a $14 million deficit, while a more recent projection showed the deficit at about $5 million, Carroll said.
Carroll suggested that the move was a way to take the money off the table for ongoing raises for teachers.
“The district last night defined the $19 million as one-time money, and I challenged that, because that is unspent recurring money,” he said.
Carroll also said that the $1,600 for teachers comes with a caveat that would allow the district to bypass the district’s benefits committee when considering changes to teacher’s benefits.
Instead, the district would take such proposals directly to the negotiating table, Carroll said.
“This authorizes a last-minute rush to changes,” he said.
The subject of teacher benefits is a sore one. The district at the May 10 Board of Trustees meeting tabled a proposal to cap teacher health insurance after hundreds of educators came to speak out against it.
PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said that the district is looking for ways to give teachers raises.
“I continue to maintain that I and the Board of Trustees want to give teachers the financial support they deserve, but we must keep the district solvent,” she said.
Rodriguez said that the money comes from various sources, including a pot of money set aside by the district years ago to pay for textbook adoption.
She stressed, however, that little of it was recurring, and that the district is currently deficit spending, meaning its expenditures outweigh its annual revenues.
The district must first find a way to reign in rising health care costs, Rodriguez said.
As such, offering teachers a raise is not possible, she said.
Rodriguez acknowledged the district showed a $6 million variance in the budget projections.
But she said a recent line-by-line analysis of the district’s 300-page budget will help ameliorate that problem.
“I remain very proud of the fact that we have identified all the variances, and that the budget is as clean as it can be,” she said.
The proposed expenditures (in millions)
• Facilities (roofs and bathrooms): $3.7
• Furniture: $.9
• Textbook adoptions: $2
• Reduce deficit spending: $2.5
• Additional reserve: $6.8
• One-time teacher payment: $3.5