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School board reduces deficit

Molly Shore

School board members voted this week to cut nearly $820,000 in

district operating expenses for the coming fiscal year, but still

must trim an additional $2.5 million by the end of the month to


balance the budget.

The board, which approved the cuts Tuesday night, got some good

news when it was learned that the district will pay nearly $1 million

less than anticipated for employee health care benefits because of


lower CalPERS costs, said Debbie Kukta, chairwoman of the

superintendent’s budget committee.

“Part of the projections we were making were based on a 33%

increase of CalPERS medical,” Kukta said. “It actually went up only

16%. That’s $700,000 we didn’t need to take off.”

Acting on recommendations by the committee, the board voted

Tuesday to eliminate the equivalent of two assistant principal

positions at John Muir, Luther Burbank and Jordan middle schools, a


savings of $216,018. The board also cut the equivalent of one

assistant principal position at Jefferson and Miller elementary

schools to save $100,012.

Other board-approved cuts include eliminating transportation on

Saturdays and vacations for middle and high school athletic events,

for a savings of $29,438.

Efforts to produce a balanced budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year

are coming down to the wire. District administrators must submit a


final budget by June 30 to satisfy state requirements.

“We are moving slowly to where we need to get,” board President

Trish Burnett said. “It’s a difficult process.”

The committee’s recommendations for facilities maintenance and

operations, including custodial services, have yet to be reviewed.

Board members will consider cuts in these areas at the meeting 6 p.m.

Tuesday in the district administration building boardroom, located at

1900 W. Olive Ave.