Increased health and welfare benefit costs, combined with
unanticipated expenditures for special education, could bankrupt the
Burbank Unified School District if steps are not taken immediately to
reduce costs, administrators warned this week.
Speaking Thursday night at a special school board meeting to
address the 2003-04 budget, Steve Bradley, the district’s assistant
superintendent for business services, predicted that annual increases
in health and welfare benefits of $2 million could spell trouble for
“If caps are not put on these costs, we’re broke in 2004-05,”
Bradley said, adding that by then, health insurance and worker’s
compensation costs are expected to increase by as much as 30%. “The
money we get from the state doesn’t keep up with increases in health
The superintendent’s budget committee, composed of parents,
teachers, union leaders and business people, presented its proposed
budget reductions Thursday night. In working toward the $4 million it
needs to keep the district solvent in 2003-04, the group has come
with $2.36 million in reductions so far.
Debbie Kukta, budget committee chairwoman, told the board that the
panel does not want to reduce special education services, but members
believe it is necessary for the district to renegotiate with the
state for additional money. This year, special education ate up $3.8
million of the district’s general fund.
Supt. Gregory Bowman, who has reviewed the committee’s budget
proposal, is recommending slightly more than $4 million in cuts,
which would include closing schools and the district office during
July to save $548,246. Bowman also recommended cutting the equivalent
of two middle school assistant principals for a savings of $216,018,
and eliminating three middle school media specialists to save
The committee, which initially recommended those cuts, has since
voted against them.
Even if the $4 million in cuts were made for 2003-04, the district
will continue to be in a financial bind in future years due to
escalating costs. Bradley predicted that in 2004-05, the district
could face a $3.7-million deficit, which in 2005-06 could reach
nearly $11 million.