When Long Beach elementary school kids get off the bus in the morning, the smiling faces of the teachers-in-charge will still be there to greet them.
After a public outcry over a number of staff cuts that were proposed for the 2013-14 school budget, school officials restored some of the most disputed cuts when they presented a final budget proposal last week. And though many parents were happy about the restoration of some elementary school positions, the public spent almost two hours addressing the board on everything from transportation to the school’s preservation plan.
Schools Superintendent David Weiss presented the details of the $123.6 million budget at the April 9 school board meeting. He said that officials looked for ways to consolidate while utilizing additional revenue.
The proposed spending plan includes a one percent increase in the tax levy, to $93.2 million, that 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.
Last month, school officials announced that they were still trying to close an $800,000 budget gap, after mandated costs like teacher retirement funds and health insurance payments went up $4.5 million from last year. During their presentation, Weiss and Chief Operating Officer Michael DeVito stressed that while mandated costs accounted for the budget increases, the district’s operating costs will remain the same.
The district managed to not only close its budget gap, but also save some of the staff positions that had previously been on the chopping block. School officials had been pushing for eligible teachers to take retirement incentive packages, and about 25 staff members have opted to take the incentive. School officials said that rather than firing personnel, those positions will not be filled.
“When you have shrinking enrollment, you can, through attrition, eliminate positions without eliminating people,” said DeVito.