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Schools Prepared for Budget Slashing : Funding: Most major districts expected the governor’s fiscal knife and planned their spending for next year accordingly. Pasadena may lose driver’s training, though.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The San Gabriel Valley’s major school districts anticipated major cuts in state funding this fiscal year and were not taken unawares by Gov. George Deukmejian slashing $480 million from public school and community college programs in his 1990-'91 budget.

Officials in several districts said last week that they expect only minimal impact from the state cuts.

A prominent exception, however, was Pasadena, where officials said driver’s training may be eliminated.

Still, a handful of Pasadena teen-agers interviewed last week at a local mall took the news in stride.

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“I wouldn’t be paying for it, my parents would,” said Amy Kislingbury, 14, who will enter 10th grade at John Muir High School this fall.

Daniella Heredia, 15, who will also enter 10th grade at John Muir this fall, wasn’t perturbed, either.

“How can I care? My mom won’t let me get a license,” she said.

But Lydia Robledo, a single mother with a 13-year-old son, was a bit more concerned about the possible elimination of the program.

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“It’s going to be very hard for me,” she said. “I can’t afford the cost. I don’t own a car.”

Elsewhere, however, officials said they expect Deukmejian’s cuts will have little effect.

“We don’t anticipate we’ll have to make a lot of cuts,” said Robert Frick, interim assistant superintendent for business and facilities at the West Covina School District. The school was forced to borrow $3.3 million from the state to save it from bankruptcy three years ago but is now back on solid financial ground, Frick said.

One severe blow was averted by early warnings that Deukmejian might trim the increase in cost-of-living appropriations to schools from 4.7% to 3%. As a result, the school districts of Pasadena, Hacienda La Puente, West Covina and Pomona said they built the lower figure into their budgets this year.

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“The governor was suggesting quite some time ago that it would only be 3%, so that was the starting point that we were working with,” said Patrick Leier, acting assistant superintendent of business for the Pomona Unified School District.

But Leier also warned of trouble down the road unless the governor expands the cost-of-living awards for next year, citing contracts with teachers and classified employees that commit the district to paying up to 8%.

“When you’re paying out more than you’re getting in, obviously you have a problem,” Leier said.

Districts had various responses to the governor’s announcement that funding for California Assessment Program scores would be dropped.

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In Pomona, Leier said the district might consider using another type of standardized test, although he said it could be funded only by shortchanging another educational program.

In Pasadena and Hacienda La Puente, officials said they had no plans to begin paying for the CAP program out of their own coffers. Statewide, the program cost $11 million annually.

“If the state isn’t going to fund it I don’t see school districts funding it on their own. We just don’t have the money,” said James Johnson, superintendent of Hacienda La Puente Unified.

Johnson said the governor’s decision to eliminate the state-funded $21-million driver’s training program would not affect his district because the program was discontinued years ago in the wake of Proposition 13.

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But in Pasadena, where the school district currently operates a driver’s training school with its own cars, financial consultant Mark Facer said the district might be forced to eliminate the program.

Times staff writer Ben Sullivan contributed to this story.


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