$2 Million Sliced Out of Beverly Hills School Budget

Times Staff Writer

In response to the unexpected defeat last week of the parcel tax initiative, the Beverly Hills Board of Education Tuesday night unanimously approved a $2.06-million package of cuts from its 1987-88 budget.

The district will send layoff notices to 43 full- and part-time employees to save about $1 million. Cuts in maintenance and other projects are expected to save another about $1 million.

Twenty-one teachers are among those scheduled to receive layoff notices. They include six elementary school teachers and elementary- and high school-level instructors in music, elementary and high school foreign languages, physical education, counseling, home economics and technical arts.

The district also will send notices to 22 full- and part-time clerks, gardeners, craftsmen, custodians and other workers.

John H. Scoggin, assistant superintendent of business, said the district needs at least $1.7 million in additional revenue or service cuts to balance its $27-million budget next year.

The cuts, according to school board President Mark Egerman, mean that the district has reached a point when it must begin cutting the "muscle" from its educational program.

"We are not talking about cuts in areas that won't be felt," he said. "We are now cutting back on programs that have a direct educational benefit for our children."

School officials said that although the notifications are the first message to the community that cuts are coming, that message is not final. The state education code requires the district to give notice of a September layoff by March 15.

Effort to Raise Money

Egerman said that between now and the start of the school year efforts will be made to raise money to rescind the layoff notices.

"It is not over," he said. "We will be seeking to raise more money, but at the same time we may have to make more cuts. It is an ongoing process to attempt to raise money to prevent cutbacks."

Some of the concern over the fate of the district's finances focuses on the prospect of a settlement with the Beverly Hills Education Assn., the union representing the district's 300 teachers.

Negotiations on a contract for the current 1986-87 school year have been stalled for months.

Union President Kenneth Eaves urged the district to avoid layoffs and make reductions elsewhere. He also asked the board to consider selling surplus property to cover the deficit.

Egerman, however, said that the sale of property would provide a one-time solution. It would not provide the continuing revenue that the district desperately needs, he added.

In the past, school officials have painted a similarly bleak financial picture. Last year, for example, the district proposed layoffs in March, but school officials decided against the cuts after residents appealed for time to come up with financial alternatives.

Such efforts were successful, Egerman said. The city increased the amount of money its pays the district for rental of school facilities to $4 million from $2.2 million.

And the Beverly Hills Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the schools, contributed $750,000. The district also managed to cut $1.2 million from its budget by offering early retirement and through other cost-cutting measures.

Parcel Tax Was Key

However, a key element of the district's future plans to reduce shortfalls depended on the passage of the parcel tax, which would have placed a flat fee of $270 a year for five years on the more than 9,000 parcels of property in the city.

The initiative failed to gain the two-thirds approval needed for passage, winning only 59.3% of the vote.

"A strong majority--almost 60%--of the Beverly Hills residents supported the parcel tax because they wanted to maintain quality education in our city," Egerman said. "Unfortunately, the minority rules when it comes to passing a parcel tax, and the 40% who voted against Measure K have dictated the outcome."

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