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Burbank Unified budget for next year includes cuts — and some good news

Burbank Unified School District Board Members listens to public comment during the Burbank Unified S
Cuts of over $3 million, a few position eliminations, three saved music teaching jobs and a small deficit highlight some key items on Burbank Unified’s adopted budget for the upcoming school year.
(Photo by James Carbone)

Cuts totaling over $3 million, some position eliminations, three saved music teaching jobs and a small deficit highlight some key items on the recently adopted Burbank Unified School District budget for the upcoming school year.

The board approved the budget 5-0 at its latest meeting late last month, which formally cemented cutbacks first proposed in January as Burbank Unified tries to address a $3.5-million structural deficit.

The reductions include the elimination of the district’s director of wellness, director of secondary education, the public information officer, two administrative assistants, one special teacher on assignment and one arts/career technical education teacher on assignment.

“The majority of the cuts … $837,477 is coming from reductions to the district office,” said Supt. Matt Hill.

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Burbank Unified also eliminated a vacant assistant principal job at Jefferson Elementary School, froze an assistant principal position at Luther Burbank Middle School and turned a full-time senior administrative secretary into a part-time employee.

“We’re spreading the work with fewer people,” Hill added.

Though board members and staff vowed to keep cuts “away from the classroom,” district officials agreed to school-site slashing.

There will be reductions to middle school world-language materials, targeted intervention sections for secondary students, Response to Intervention, or RTI, which is math and English language elementary assistance and a General Fund reduction to child development.

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If there’s good news for Burbank Unified, much has happened in terms of fundraising and grants since January.

The budget included receiving $275,328 in fundraising from several charitable entities to save three music-teaching positions, $50,000 in grants to salvage two to three career-technical education courses, and $581,328 in new supplemental funding.

The departure of Tom Kissinger, assistant superintendent of educational services, also helped Burbank Unified financially as the district’s 15-year veteran recently accepted a similar post at Del Norte County Unified School.

We’re spreading the work with fewer people.”
Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill

His resignation let Hill promote the district’s director of secondary education, John Paramo, to Kissinger’s job. That move allowed Hill to eliminate the now vacant secondary education spot and retain the district’s elementary director, who was set to be laid off.

In terms of dollars, next year’s General Fund revenues are expected to be about $161.8 million, while expenditures are projected to be roughly $162.1 million.

The budget did include a 1% salary increase recently agreed upon between Burbank Unified officials and the Burbank Teachers Assn.

Burbank Unified officials made an equal salary-hike assumption with the local chapters of the Assn. of School Administrators and the California School Employees Assn., even though bargaining is ongoing.

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“There’s a 1% raise for all of the employees that we have projected, but only 1% has been negotiated with BTA,” said David Jaynes, the district’s retiring assistant superintendent of administrative services.

Reserves continue to shrink for Burbank Unified, with a General Fund multiyear projection seeing the district’s $7 million expected this upcoming school year to drop to $5.5 million by the 2021-22 school year.

An important note perhaps lost among the dollars and cents is the district’s enrollment, which is projected to grow by 56 students this upcoming school year.

Two neighboring school districts of Burbank Unified, Glendale Unified and Los Angeles Unified, are projecting 1% and 3% decreases in enrollment, respectively, next year, which translates to losses of $2.7 million and $130 million for those districts.

The one caveat is, however, students must be in class.

“We are paid on attendance, not on enrollment, so it is very important that a child shows up for school because if they don’t, then it costs us money,” Jaynes said.

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