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Burbank school budget approved

June 27, 2009|By Zain Shauk

CITY HALL — The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education adopted a new budget package Thursday in reaction to state cuts that will slash its spending by $9 million and turn funding on its heels after years of steady growth.

The plan, presented by Chief Business and Financial Officer Lori Ordway-Peck, painted a bleak picture of the future for Burbank schools, which are projected to maintain similar enrollment levels while still losing chunks of funding.

Burbank Unified will spend $121 million in 2009-10, down from $130 million last year, in an effort to make up for the state’s plan to pay just 82 cents of every dollar that should go to the district, Ordway-Peck said.

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The district will stay afloat largely by cutting jobs — 34 teachers and 44 other school employees, most of whom were part time, will lose their positions. The district will also use all of its federal stimulus funds, which total more than $8 million, in an effort to delay more serious cuts that may lie ahead.

Those cuts will include more employee layoffs, the elimination of summer programs and the closure of an elementary school campus, unless trustees take other steps to cut costs or increase revenues, Ordway-Peck said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed education spending cuts, which could total more than $6 billion over two years in an effort to close a projected $24-billion state deficit, has stirred a renewed urgency among administrators to find additional cost-saving measures that may include shuttering a school, Supt. Gregory Bowman said.

“If you don’t think about closing a school, you’re going to have to find another way to begin saving that money,” Bowman said of the millions that administrators expect to lose in the coming years.

Ordway-Peck illustrated the depth of the pending cuts using a line graph that showed revenues plunging steeply from a peak in 2007-08.

Burbank Unified will receive $61 million less than what it should get over the next three years, according to state funding formulas, she said.

Instead, the district’s revenues by 2012 will still be short of what they were during the 2004-05 school year, she said, pointing to the graph.

“Even three years from now we will not have remotely recovered, and that is the crux of why we have this problem,” Ordway-Peck said, explaining that further reductions and teacher layoffs would be necessary.

She recommended that trustees spend reserves and stimulus funds to help delay more dramatic maneuvers and give administrators time to analyze their options. “This is the worst decline we’ve ever had in this district,” she said.

The district’s budget plan will remain intact, even if lawmakers approve Schwarzenegger’s cuts, she said.

But if state officials decide to shorten the school year in order to further cut costs, administrators may have to restructure their plans, she said.


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