Although two jobs were spared, Burbank Unified school board members agreed 4-0 last week to lay off three employees and make additional cuts and approved filing a positive budget ahead of a deadline this month set by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
The reductions, restrictions and usage of supplemental funding laid out during a special meeting last Thursday are projected to close a roughly-$3.5 million structural deficit for the district.
The positive rating replaces a qualified budget filed for an earlier deadline in December that indicated Burbank Unified might not meet its financial needs for 2020-21 school year.
By filing a positive budget before the county’s March 18 deadline, Burbank Unified avoids the chance of a possible intervention. The county informed board president Roberta Reynolds in a Jan. 14 letter that it could assign a fiscal expert to make cuts on the district’s behalf should Burbank not address its financial issues.
The plan on Thursday marked an improvement, in terms of layoffs, from the district’s first cost-cutting proposal made Jan. 24.
At that time, the district considered laying off three elementary school music teachers, which would have amounted to a savings of $275,328 for the 2019-20 school year.
Since then, the district has received a $100,000 grant from the Burbank Arts for All Foundation — the largest in the organization’s history — to save those positions.
That money, along with roughly $100,000 raised by the Burbank Educational Foundation since the start of its campaign in November called “Partnering for Success — All in for Burbank,” has resulted in two of those three layoffs being rescinded.
“For the last one, we would need to have a discussion of if we have enough money coming in, is that going to go to a music teacher,” Supt. Matt Hill said of fundraising regarding the music-teacher position still in question.
The board agreed to lay off one music teacher and the district’s directors of wellness and elementary education.
Sarah Neimann, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, confirmed she personally handed notices to the employees expected to be affected.
Two administrative assistant positions were also listed as potential layoffs, but according to Hill, the district will wait until May to hand out those notices.
“It’s to be determined what’s going to happen to those positions,” Hill said.
Also listed was the elimination of one arts/career technical education teacher on special assignment, or TOSA, and one engagement strategies teacher on special assignment.
Those teachers will return to the classroom next year and those two teaching spots they displace may be reduced through retirements or resignations.
Fundraising may still be able to save jobs in the future as the district is set to send out a second round of layoff notices by May 14. Those notices can be rescinded, according to Neimann, “all the way to June 30.”
Other possible personnel moves include reducing Supt. Matt Hill’s full-time office staff to part time, the elimination of a vacant assistant principal’s position at Jefferson Elementary School, and the superintendent and the board refusing to take pay raises.
Outside of personnel, Burbank Unified will reduce materials dealing with social and emotional issues such as bullying, professional development for counselors, intervention training and materials, middle-school world-language materials, two to three career technical education courses and a reduction in funding for child development.
Along with those cuts, there is also financial maneuvering, such as moving 90% of the district’s grounds positions from the budget to the restricted routine-maintenance fund.
Routine maintenance, in general, will also be slashed by $213,000 annually, which means maintenance projects outside of immediate repairs will be delayed or postponed.