Follow the Money

During lease negotiations, PCS set out to stay at Natural Bridges paying less than half of what they pay now.  Their best offer, made AFTER negotiations closed, was?  STILL less than they pay today.

Why would they put their students at risk?  Why wouldn”t they just pay a fair rent?  PCS says they just can’t afford it.  But is that really true?  Let’s follow the money—at least the parts the PCS board has been willing to release publicly.

Last week, PCS released new figures to their Finance Committee. These reports are not available on the PCS website; they were made available in hard copy only.  It is important for the community to understand the full extent of PCS’s ability to pay a reasonable, market rate rent for the 47,000 sf/9.4 acres Natural Bridges campus.

At every opportunity to discuss their financial health, PCS will only admit to a 17% “economic uncertainty” reserve (state law requires 5%). PCS refuses to acknowledge the extent of its real fund reserves.  Yet here they are, based on figures compiled by PCS’s Finance Committee, in dollars, and as a percentage of the operating budget:

  • June 2008: $1,808,435 (or 48%)
  • June 2009: $1,883,562 (or 46%)
  • June 2010: $2,247,045 (or 54%)
  • June 2011: $2,638,191 (or 62%)

Parents and staff at PCS and in SCCS, as well as local taxpayers, should be asking: What is the source of these excess funds? State funds (intended to be expended on today’s students) or parent donations (based on the annual $3K/student appeal)?

According to the PCS annual report, parent donations are expended in full on the following:

  • Rent: 35%
  • Teacher bonuses 16%
  • Student support 7%
  • Arts supplies 3%
  • Instructional supplies 26%
  • Professional Development 3%
  • Activities 3%
  • Technology 7%

Notably absent from the list above is a category called “cash reserves.”  PCS parents are expected to donate $3,000 per child, per year, yet the fund reserves are accumulating at an alarming rate.  Do PCS parents know where their money is actually going?

If the cash reserve is not based on parent donations, perhaps it is based on unspent state funds.  That raises serious concerns about transparency and appropriate use of public money.  If PCS were governed by an elected, accountable board—one that had an unassailable history of following the Brown Act and open meeting guidelines—it would be easier to get answers to these critical questions.

Posted in Finance/Governance. Comments Off on Follow the Money
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