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BUSD board OKs revamped budget

Molly Shore

The Burbank Unified School District school board unanimously approved

a $100-million budget Thursday night, but not before cutting nearly

$2.8 million in jobs and services.

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“I’m happy that we finally finished it, but it’s very painful to

have to make cuts,” board President Trish Burnett said following the

latest in a series of special meetings focusing on the budget. “Every

position supports what happens in the classroom. To cut anyone is

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distressing.”

To help reduce a nearly $3-million deficit, the board laid off 44

teachers, counselors and other certified employees last month. On

Tuesday night, members voted to trim $585,844 from facilities

maintenance and operations, including the equivalent of 16 jobs,

maintenance and operations director Tom Lopez estimated.

“It’s almost impossible to say how many individuals will get laid

off,” said Lopez, who was scheduled to meet Friday with director of

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personnel services Nancy Gascich to determine the exact number.

Board member Ted Bunch called the budget process painful.

“There will be a significant number of people who lose their jobs

and have their hours cut back,” he said Friday. “There are a lot of

unhappy people, including the five board members. It’s not a pleasant

job to have to fire people, especially if they haven’t done anything

wrong.”

Burnett referred to the 2003-04 spending plan, which totals $100.2

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million, as a “living, breathing document.

“It’s not done in the sense that we’re finished,” she said. “It’s

done in the sense that we have a document we need to enter into the

next fiscal year.”

Burnett said that board members will continue to review categories

such as adult education and cafeteria funding for ways to increase

revenues in those areas.

Cuts in Lopez’s department could include an electrical lead man,

an electrician, one locksmith, a carpenter, a painter, a heating and

air-conditioning mechanic, the glazier/carpenter, two maintenance

worker positions and the equivalent of one half of an electronic

technician position.

In the custodial services section, one custodial supervisor will

be demoted to a lead custodian and two custodial plant supervisors

will be downgraded to lead custodians.

Lopez said his department has always tried to meet the

expectations of the district, but with the latest round of cuts, he

will have to say “no” to a lot of requests.

“Even though we’re not in the classroom teaching the kids, we

provide the support to allow teachers to teach the kids,” Lopez said.

“All the facilities you need to have the school operating, we take

care of that.”

The demotion of one custodial supervisor could mean that some

classrooms won’t even be cleaned every other day.

In a 10-day cycle, classrooms would be cleaned three times during

the first week and twice in the second week, Lopez said. But if a

custodian is absent due to illness or vacation during the second

week, it could result in a one-time cleaning during the second week.

Hoping to ward off job losses among the district’s classified

employees, Terri Marenghi, a lead benefit technician with the

district and a member of the California School Employees Assn., told

board members that employees in the bargaining group voted to take

10-day furloughs.

“Our intent is to save the services of those who are on the cut

list,” Marenghi said.

Although he does not know if it’s the right approach, board member

Paul Krekorian said the furlough idea showed a willingness on the

part of classified employees to find a solution.

At Tuesday’s special meeting, incoming Burbank High Principal

Bruce Osgood told board members that members of the Burbank Assn. of

School Administrators are willing place a limit on their benefits

packages.

“Capping benefits fixes the biggest problem in the district,”

Osgood said, referring to the escalating costs of health insurance,

workers’ compensation and retirement benefits.


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