Huntington Beach OKs Some School Cuts : High School District Delays Votes on $1.9 Million in Other Trims

Times Staff Writer

Trustees of the Huntington Beach Union High School District have voted for $664,000 in spending cuts next year, but about $1.9 million in other proposed savings still awaits decision, the board president said Wednesday.

The school district, like others with declining enrollment in Orange County, is tightening its belt because of unexpectedly low state funding and because lottery money also is declining this year.

Bonnie Castrey, school board president, said the board unexpectedly voted for some cuts late Tuesday night after a long meeting at which an overflow audience protested some proposals, including a transportation fee for student athletes and reduction of athletic trainers. She had predicted that no vote would be taken until Feb. 24.

Castrey said the cuts decided Tuesday night were relatively noncontroversial.

"We'll have to take up the other items, including the issue of the athletic trainers, at our Feb. 24 board meeting," she said Wednesday. "We expect more people will want to appear before the board then."

During the board's Tuesday meeting, 30 parents and teachers spoke against some of the cuts. After two hours, the board took a brief recess, where some board members urged Castrey to "take up some of the noncontroversial items" in the long list of proposed budget cutbacks, she said.

Lottery Income

One of those was to use lottery income to pay teaching assistants, a saving of $116,000 in tax money. Castrey said the move does not eliminate jobs, but she conceded that if lottery money continues to decline, the assistants' positions would be jeopardized.

The board also voted to:

- Eliminate four positions in the district's business division and make cutbacks in business operational costs. Saving: $250,000.

- Drop district support of an educational television program in Huntington Beach. Saving: $55,000.

- Implement energy reductions. Saving: $100,000.

- Reduce one word-processor job from 11 months to 10 months. Saving: $11,000.

- Reflect savings at individual schools because fewer students need some support services. Saving: $68,000.

- Eliminate a career education specialist job and reduce an existing curriculum-personnel contract. Saving: $64,000.

Most of the parents who spoke Tuesday opposed cutbacks in athletic trainers. Another topic that drew many speeches was the district's proposal to charge $25 per student for transportation to and from school events, such as athletic events.

Castrey said the board must complete its votes on budget reductions by March because state law requires that that much notice be given to personnel to be eliminated in the cutbacks.

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