March 20, 2013 | 1086 views
Long Beach school district floats $123.1 million budget
Parents object to proposed staff, teaching cuts
School officials floated a proposed $123.1 million school budget for 2013-14 last week, sparking the ire of teachers and parents over a number of teaching and administrative positions that may be cut to help close a $4.5 million budget gap.
About 300 people packed the Long Beach High School auditorium on March 12 for the first of the district’s budget presentations.
The proposed spending plan is .77 percent larger than the current budget, and includes a 1.02 percent increase in the tax levy, to $93.2 million. Schools Superintendent David Weiss said that the district recognized the financial hardship that many Long Beach families are grappling with in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The levy increase covers the debt payments on the district’s $98 million bond to fund its school-preservation plan, an initiative to upgrade schools and facilities approved by voters in 2009.
“As parents, often you look at the budget through the lens of your child,” Weiss said. “What we try to do is to look at it as a whole and set our priorities. We are a district that has been tightening and tightening. There is not a lot of fluff in this budget.”
Weiss added that for the third year in a row, the district’s operating costs will remain the same, $116.5 million. However, state-mandated costs such as employee retirement funds, health insurance and serial bond payments are increasing by $4.5 million. School officials said that those costs account for the biggest increase in the proposed budget, creating a gap that they are scrambling to fill.
They intend to offset those costs by using $2.4 million from three different reserve funds. “We have to use some reserve funds if we’re going to keep the tax levy down low,” said Chief Operating Officer Michael DeVito. “There’s no other way we will get to that number.”
The spending plan maintains all programs, but school officials said that they may have to cut a number of teaching, administrative, aide and athletics positions — plan that are subject to change, they emphasized. The pre-K principal would be eliminated, as would four elementary teachers-in-charge. They would be replaced by two assistant principals, who would split their time among the four schools.