As Gov.-elect Jerry Brown readies to slash $28 billion in state expenditures, Burbank Unified officials said they are preparing to initiate another difficult round of cost-cutting measures in order to keep the district financially solvent.
“We will overturn every stone that we possibly can to keep our programs the way they are…but obviously something is going to give,” Burbank Unified School Board member Dave Kemp said. “We can’t spend money we don’t have.”
The district has already seen its state funding decrease by more than 18% over the last two years, Supt. Stan Carrizosa said, a throwback to 2004-05 funding levels.
“It is a little bit like we have this pail of rainwater and somebody started shooting holes in the bottom,” Carrizosa said. “Now it is leaking, and we can’t figure out how much is leaking out how fast.”
And there is more to come. Burbank Unified is bracing for at least another $3.7 million, or $250 per student, in state funding cuts for the new year.
Officials have used several million dollars in federal stimulus money, and tapped dollars from other accounts as permitted by the 2009 state budget act in order to cover an $8-million shortfall for the current school year, Carrizosa said.
But those one-time revenue sources will expire come summer.
“We have the cash to make it through the current year, but we definitely have some critical decisions [ahead],” Carrizosa said. “We are at a similar place where we were a year ago.”
The district will soon begin exploring how to further reduce operational expenditures that were already cut by 10% last year, Carrizosa said. And with personnel costs taking up 87% of the district’s budget, reductions in staffing or works hours is likely.
“There isn’t enough money outside of the personnel costs to be able to make up that shortfall,” Carrizosa said. “So we are going to have to look at some way at reducing those ongoing costs.”
One option is to increase class sizes for grades nine through 12, Kemp said, as has already been done at the elementary level. But Burbank Unified has made substantive strides in academic performance during the last several years, Kemp said, and he and his fellow board members are loath to make financial decisions that would impact classroom instruction.
“We don’t want to do that,” Kemp said. “We have worked hard over the years to get the numbers where they are and we don’t want to go in the other direction.”