On behalf of the South Pasadena Unified School District’s Board of Education, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the South Pasadena school community. The last four weeks have brought extraordinary challenges, and in these times of hardship, we are immensely grateful for the leadership in our District office and at our school sites, and for the passion and creativity of our teachers. We are also grateful for the patience and support of our parents and families.
We now know that it was the right decision to close our school before the directive to shelter-at-home, creating challenges for families in the moment but potentially saving hundreds of students, teachers, support staff, and administrators from being exposed to coronavirus while at school. And within just two short weeks, with limited infrastructure in place to support distance learning, our District administrators developed a new framework for online learning. Teachers quickly adopted this framework and designed new teaching and learning platforms. In addition, our technology team distributed more than 1,000 Chromebooks to students. All of this has allowed our students to continue their studies while our schools are closed.
In addition, our food service team now serves more than 800 daily breakfast and lunch meals to students-in-need. We are so grateful to the many faculty and staff who have stepped up in so ways that may not be obvious but are essential to help our school family of nearly 5,000 students. We are so very proud of these efforts.
So there is much to celebrate in these difficult times.
While it is impossible to forecast the future on any given day, it is important to also share with you that our South Pasadena School District now faces considerable financial uncertainty. The economy is facing a rapid downturn and the School Board and our District leaders have been informed by state and county officials to anticipate and prepare for substantial reductions to school funding in California.
The State of California is expecting to make funding reductions to school districts in May 2020 for the current fiscal year (2019-2020) and also for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. This is a rare and dramatic change in the budget development process for public education. State leaders are also planning to make additional funding reductions to the education budget in August 2020, following the revised state tax filing deadline from April to July. Severe cuts to our state funding will present a very challenging road ahead for South Pasadena Unified, as well as all other school districts across California.
Be assured that in times like these the Board of Education is fiercely advocating for our schools and our students, through activism and extensive engagement with state leaders, public education organizations, and our District administration.
We thank you for your continued support and for your many efforts to ensure that South Pasadena remains a community that is known for its outstanding schools and for its unwavering support for all students. Together, we will weather this storm and be stronger and more united than ever before.
– Dr. Michele Kipke,
President, SPUSD Board of Education