Montebello : Board Cuts After-School Activities, Academic Extras

Trustees of the financially strapped Montebello Unified School District on Tuesday tentatively approved $1.2 million worth of budget cuts. The new cutbacks, if given final approval Sept. 5, will follow $18 million in earlier reductions and will still leave the district $7.7 million short of a balanced budget.

The school board must submit a balanced budget to the county by Sept. 16 or face bankruptcy and a possible state takeover. Some said that across-the-board pay cuts may be the only alternative left.

"Let's all take a hit and get through this miserable thing," board member Darrell Heacock said. "The district up till now was one of the most highly paid in the state. Maybe our heyday is over."

The latest cuts include providing less money for after-school activities, possibly forcing schools to eliminate some sports teams and clubs. The board also canceled its between-semesters academic program at year-round schools. In addition, the district will shorten the hours of about 20% of its special education instructional aides. Other cuts include reducing financial incentives for employees who car-pool and ending gym towel service for students--they will now bring their own towels.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 parents, teachers and other district personnel packed the board chamber Tuesday to lament the latest bad news in a district that has already slashed programs and laid off about 150 employees.

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