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Teacher, staffing cuts start to come into focus for Glendale Unified

Glendale Unified School District Chief Business & Financial Officer Stephen Dickinson at a school bo
After hinting that another round of $5 million in budget cuts was on the way, Glendale Unified staff members, led by Stephen Dickinson, the district’s chief business and financial officer, presented an outline of what reductions could be involved.
(File Photo)

After indicating that another round of $5 million in budget cuts may be on the way, Glendale Unified staff members presented an outline of what reductions could be involved during a recent school board meeting.

Stephen Dickinson, the district’s chief business and financial officer, went over a report he classified as “a progress check” that listed slightly more than $5 million in possible cuts to personnel, department budgets and professional development.

For the record:
7:29 PM, Nov. 05, 2019 The story initially said one district principal position would need to be eliminated. It should have been one “assistant” principal.

“This is not intended to be a full-blown budget update,” Dickinson said, adding his report was one of many updates school officials will provide before the district needs to file a preliminary budget with the Los Angeles County Office of Education by the first interim deadline on Dec. 15.

Glendale Unified has projected it will spend at a deficit again next school year, short approximately $5.8 million, according to a staff report on Aug. 27.

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That projection follows cuts of $3.6 million for the 2018-19 school year and $5 million from this year’s budget.

The listed reductions at the teaching and administrative levels would include freezing or eliminating positions and perhaps layoffs that could total just under $2 million.

“So, $2 million out of that $5 million basically is personnel, people that we hire, and that’s the adjustment,” board vice president Armina Gharpetian said. “It’s a big chunk of that $5 million. It’s $2 million.”

District staff proposed cutting $800,000 from elementary-school teaching positions, $200,000 from middle schools and $100,000 from high schools, on top of $60,000 for a classified position, due to shrinking enrollment.

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Glendale Unified officials reported the district lost 283 students during the 2018-19 school year, or roughly 1% of the student population, and recently acknowledged the district is projecting another drop of 233 students this school year.

That enrollment loss would equate to a roughly $2.5 million annual hit for the district.

The losses, according to Dickinson, should accompany a reduction in personnel.

“There are adjustments to teaching staff that’s just in line with declining enrollment,” Dickinson said. “It actually should not impact class size.”

On top of teaching cuts, one district assistant principal position would need to be eliminated to provide the district an annual savings of $150,000. Also, the district’s position for director of secondary education, which is vacant, would be terminated, which should save Glendale Unified roughly $200,000 annually.

Classified staff would be instructed to trim personnel costs by $200,000 by reviewing all vacancies for possible non-replacement, according to the report.

Like this year’s budget, departments would also be asked to tightened their belts to the tune of a 3% budget reduction, which would save the district $750,000 a year. Those cuts may be made by reducing supplies, consulting services and conferences.

Other district budget-cutting measures could include restructuring a professional development block grant ($500,000) and reaping savings due to the utilization of substitutes ($1.5 million).

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Board member Greg Krikorian said he was worried the staff’s estimations were missing key elements, such as contact negotiations with the Glendale Teachers Assn. and other school unions.

“When you incorporate all of them together, even this could impact this number more,” Krikorian said.

However, Dickinson urged caution, saying budgeting is in a nascent phase.

“So, our plan of reducing another $5 million for 2020-21 is in the early stages right now, so this is just a draft,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson said staff will follow up with another report on Nov. 19.

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