WEST BURBANK — Despite reduced state education funding, the Burbank Unified school board on Thursday approved a budget that is expected to end $400,000 in the black three years out.
State law requires school districts to submit balanced budgets every year for three consecutive years, and while other districts are still projecting deficits that far out, Burbank Unified projects ending 2012-13 in the black by about $400,000.
"Being able to preserve capital and roll that forward to offset losses was huge," said interim Deputy Supt. Lori Ordway-Peck. "As long as the state doesn't do anything to us, we stick to our plan and stay disciplined, we'll be in a place that's much better than a month ago."
The budget rests on the May revision to the state budget, which preserved $2 million in cuts to Burbank Unified, officials said.
"Until the state adopts its budget, or if they do something really creative, which they've done in the past … I think we will just barely be OK in the third year out," Ordway-Peck said. "The reason for that is, we did a lot of things right."
The district eliminated almost $1.8 million worth of staffing positions, and won more than $2.7 million of concessions from employee unions. Those made the difference between meeting the school district's financial obligations and projecting bankruptcy, Ordway-Peck said.
"We're in a much more decent place now than we were before we got these agreements, which is what we hoped," she said. "We have to stick to the plan, but there are so many things that could go south with this."
Burbank Teachers Assn. President Jerry Mullady said this budget joins other union-led cost-savings campaigns like the Power of One, or concessions like a medical benefits cap, as proof the union is a constructive partner.
"I'd like to see as much cooperation, when things change around, to refund programs, and employees is a program," he said. "If this is working out, this is an example once again of the employees finding ways to help them find money. We have sacrificed to help them financially."
The budget preserves the district deficit spending, and board members said the strong reserves in 2010-11 will be depleted every year moving forward.
"People will scream bloody murder that we've got all this money, but the multi-year projections are kind of the key," said school board member Dave Kemp. "We're really not sitting on a ton of money … and that's if the state doesn't whack us again."