PCS faces small deficit. And a huge cash stash.

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

SANTA CRUZ — Pacific Collegiate School will need to cut $50,000 to balance the charter school’s projected $3.8 million budget for 2010-2011, a far cry from the $150,000 it had to cut the year before.

At its monthly board meeting Wednesday, where new board leadership was voted in, Principal Archie Douglas said the cuts would not come from staff, whose salaries are about 45 percent of the budget. Instead the school is looking to increase hours in a couple of subjects, and Douglas said the cuts could come in programming that he said sets the school apart.

“It’s a deficit that represents a threat to quality,” he said. “We’re bending over backward to not take it out of staff.”

PCS, with approximately 480 students in grades 7-12, has won numerous accolades over the years, and with admission by lottery, turns away many more students than it can accept. The school requests a $3,000 donation from all families in attendance, which in theory would provide the school $1.4 million per year. The budget is based on receiving half that and Douglas said the donation amount would not be raised. The budget must be presented to the County Office of Education by June 15, said Douglas.

The board also discussed classified employees, who are usually support and clerical staff, paying for the first time into their own retirements at 7 percent of each paycheck. Previously the school made the entire contribution, but as the amount required continues to climb, said Trustee Jigisha Desai, the cost becomes prohibitive.

Yet, despite belt tightening measures, the school maintains a 17 percent reserve, well over the state-mandated 3 percent. The high percentage of funds socked away is in part because of reduced state contributions, said Business Manager Mary Navas. Other school districts in Santa Cruz County, facing large budget deficits, are struggling to maintain three percent reserves.

The next year will be pivotal for the school and its new board president, Andrew Townsend. He will help lead the renewal of the schools charter and its lease. The school is currently on Swift Street in Santa Cruz, and may stay there, but is also looking at buying or leasing property on Harvey West Boulevard.

Townsend said he was confident in the school’s ability to manage both, adding, “I think that the community will stand behind us.”

Fascinating.  Especially this:

Yet, despite belt tightening measures, the school maintains a 17 percent reserve, well over the state-mandated 3 percent. The high percentage of funds socked away is in part because of reduced state contributions, said Business Manager Mary Navas. Other school districts in Santa Cruz County, facing large budget deficits, are struggling to maintain three percent reserves.

On an operating budget of $3.8 million, the cash on-hand for this school of 480 students is over $2 million; $800,000 set aside in a restricted account to be applied to facilities.  That is not by any stretch a 3% reserve.  Nor a 17% reserve.  In this economy, while making decisions to take more from janitors and students, this public agency has a reserve of nearly 60%. That is the public’s money, to be applied to educating the community’s children.  Someone has some explaining to do.

Don’t take our word for it.  Download PCS financial information from the Board Packets available here.

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