HUNTINGTON BEACH : Trustees Foresee 1991-92 Deficit

Despite cutting $3.6 million from its budget this year, the Huntington Beach Union High School District expects a $2.6-million deficit for 1991-92, according to a tentative budget approved by the Board of Trustees.

Although the outcome of the state budget could shrink the district's shortfall, trustees may be forced to make another round of cuts in the $78.5-million budget within a year, said Dave Hagan, the district's assistant superintendent for business services.

Trustees will dip into district reserves to balance the budget this summer, Hagan added.

"Very fortunately, the board had the reserves to draw upon this year," Hagan said.

"But next year, depending what happens with the state, the board may be making some very drastic budget cuts."

The district's financial woes have mounted because of dropping enrollment since the late 1970s and the ongoing state funding crisis.

In the past decade, the district has whittled $38 million from its budget, including $14.5 million in the past four years.

Last fall, trustees cut $1 million and in April slashed another $2.6 million that eliminated funding for a teen pregnancy program and resulted in the laying off of 39 employees, among other reductions.

During the upcoming school year, the tab for utilities, salary increases and other expenses are expected to climb, while the district's income will probably remain the same, Hagan said.

And, in the wake of the dramatic cuts made in recent years, "there's not much left in the budget that's expendable," he said. "We're really down to the heart of some of the programs."

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