PALMDALE – Palmdale School District has responded to allegations of budget mismanagement made at a union-backed community forum Wednesday night. In a detailed press release issued Thursday, District officials said the information was “artificially contrived” and “presented without context.” They also questioned the motives of former superintendent Nancy Smith, saying her “sole purpose in this presentation was to make inflammatory insinuations against the current school district administration.” Read the entire press release below:
On October 23rd PETA and CSEA presented their narrow version of an analysis of the Palmdale School District budget. The information was presented by Nancy Smith, retired PSD Superintendent. Mrs. Smith identified Sherilyn Thacker, retired Transportation Director, Becky Velazquez-McIntyre, former Administrative Secretary, and Kathleen Duren, retired SELPA Fiscal Coordinator as persons who assisted in her analysis of the District finances.
Mrs. Smith presented a slide show in which she accused the District of being too conservative in budget development. She stated her information was taken directly from Board approved financial reports; however, the “facts” she presented were artificially contrived since they were presented without context and with no designation between restricted versus unrestricted monies. Given that Mrs. Smith was a long-time public school employee and knows the importance of these characteristics, it appears her sole purpose in this presentation was to make inflammatory insinuations against the current school district administration.
Mrs. Smith’s primary accusation was the appearance of over-estimating budget amounts that were never adjusted. In fact, the District budget is officially reviewed and adjusted four times each year, at minimum. She never acknowledged the 25% lost revenue imposed on Palmdale School District as a result of the Great Recession that California has suffered the past 6 years. This alone resulted in lost revenue to Palmdale School District of more than $125 million dollars.
She failed to mention the generous contingency language the District included in the current labor agreements that automatically restores salary reductions and furlough days should the Unrestricted Ending Fund Balance increase and/or new unrestricted revenue be received. She failed to mention that Palmdale School District is one of the few districts in the State that has managed finances so well during the past 6 years that salary reductions or furlough days were not imposed. She failed to mention that the reductions imposed for 2013-14 have been fully restored and that we have already restored 11.2% of the 12.2% salary reduction intended for 2014-15.
Palmdale School District staff has worked diligently to protect the classroom by taking full advantage of the flexibility options offered by the State and the ARRA monies provided by the Federal government. We have intentionally developed a healthy Ending Fund Balance to use specifically to maintain our labor base with as little disruption as possible. The Board of Trustees have made difficult decisions to ensure fiscal solvency for the Palmdale School District that has resulted in increased test scores and new programs for students. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Smith has chosen to assault the good things that have taken place at the Palmdale School District.
Please visit our website at www.palmdalesd.org to review the District’s response to the specific items mentioned by Mrs. Smith.
View a point-by-point response from the school district on allegations raised at the Oct. 23 meeting here.
Previous related story: Unions, former superintendent claim budget mismanagement in Palmdale School District