However, this was not really that kind of meeting as most were there to show their outrage at the PUSD's stunning announcement that Measure TT moneys that had been promised to Sierra Madre's schools for replacing the Middle School and substantial work to the Elementary Schools, would be about 20% less than promised. A substantial cut that the PUSD blamed solely on Sacramento cuts due to the state's financial crisis.
Of course, and as was pointed out at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting by Chris Koerber, when Measure TT was sold to the voters it was to be the sole financial vessel for work that still needs to be done at PUSD campuses throughout the entire district. Nothing about matching state funding was heard at that time. Now, a 4 full years later, PUSD parents are hearing a much different story, and a lot of what had been promised is not going to be delivered. And for reasons that were not made clear, or even intimated at, when the tax payers voted themselves $350,000,000 in bond debt to fund school construction. Something many are beginning to view as a bait and switch.
However, identifying and discussing these aspects of the Measure TT hype from 2008 is only going to get us so far. A good benchmark for not trusting the PUSD in the future, but it isn't going to help us now.
A great and meticulously prepared handout at the meeting entitled "Response to PUSD Facilities Sub-Committee and Mr. Robin Brown, Facilities Bond Manager Responsible for the Master Plan Budget Reduction Concerning the Proposed Facilities Cuts to the Sierra Madre School Upper and Lower Campus facilities projects funded under Measure TT," shows that much of the data being used by the PUSD to calculate how these cuts would effect Sierra Madre's schools is called into question by parents. Here is how they rolled that out:
Background: On April 25, 2012 Mr. Robin Brown presented the PUSD Facilities Sub-Committee's response to the expected shortfall of $64,000,000 funding expected from the State of California. Without this State contribution, the Measure TT funded projects contingent on this additional State funding, must be cut to meet the projected shortfall amount. Applying a cut distributed across all of PUSD facilities projects, the proposed impact on the Sierra Madre Schools facilities amounted to $909,389 at the Lower Campus and $2,766,045 at the Upper Campus.
However, when it came to how the cuts were being made, it looks like the PUSD has been using fuzzy and outdated math. Anyone surprised?
SSC Analysis/Discussion: When Mr. Brown provided the supporting budgets used to make the proposed cuts to Sierra Madre, however, it became apparent that the figures they used were significantly outdated and did not take into account numerous updates, cuts, and additions enacted by the PUSD School Board and recorded in the PUSD School Board Minutes. The budget numbers they used appear to have been taken from the original estimates used for the Measure TT proposal rather than the numbers that were amended and approved in the ensuing years.
Much of this handout includes actual PUSD documents showing that significant cuts had already been made starting in 2009, and since those amounts had already removed from the overall equation nothing more needed to be cut.
Given these corrections, Sierra Madre School facilities will be well served within the budget numbers that Mr. Brown presented since they already reflect significant facilities budget reductions from the original 2008 Project Allocations and are sufficient to complete the full scope of the Board-Approved Facilities Projects on both Sierra Madre campuses, reinstating the field house project at the lower campus and, at the upper campus, the 4-classroom building, the work to the field, and the $600,000 in soft costs.
The recommendation that was put before the Sierra Madre School Site Council for a vote read as follows:
The Sierra Madre School Site Council Approve the Target Revised Project Budgets totaling $30,921,355 for construction projects at the Sierra Madre Upper Campus and $4,764,336 for the Sierra Madre Lower Campus but Rejects All Cuts to the Facilities Plans and, Because All Board Approved Plans Are Under Revised Projected Budget Amounts, No Facilities Cuts Be Enacted.
Rather than approve this recommendation, the Sierra Madre School Site Council chose instead to form a sub-committee and look into these things further. You need to remember that this is all very recent news, and if Sierra Madre's SSC is to present its recommendations to the Pasadena Board of Education, they need to put together some very good arguments to make certain this crude 20% hacking off of promised funding does not take place.
But some pretty valuable work has obviously already been done. Establishing that these cuts were made on outdated and faulty data is quite a coup, and will certainly provide effective ammunition when they go up against the governing parties.