Burbank, Glendale schools hold breath over budget

Despite plans by Gov. Jerry Brown to spend roughly $1.6 billion more on education, local school officials this week remained only cautiously optimistic about their financial prospects.

The additional funding included in Brown's budget revision unveiled earlier in the week was the result of state revenues that came in $4.5 billion higher than projected for the first six months of the year. But local school district officials say it will take some time to decipher exactly what that will mean for their own beleaguered budgets.

The Burbank Unified School District could still face a $5.5-million structural deficit in its General Fund next fiscal year, according to Christine Statton, assistant superintendent of administrative services.

"But with increased revenues from the state now anticipated, that deficit will be reduced. We just don't know how much," she said.

Glendale Unified's structural deficit is expected to hover around $17 million for the next three fiscal years, said Eva Lueck, chief business and financial official for the school district.

However, the district won't actually feel the deficit until the 2014-15 fiscal year because $24 million in reserves from the general fund and an additional $23 million in reserves from other areas will get Glendale Unified through the next fiscal year and part of 2014-15, Lueck said.

She said the deficits are based on future revenue projections from the state. If the additional funding in Brown's proposed budget is approved by state lawmakers, Glendale Unified's deficits will be lower.

"We just don't know how those dollars will be packaged," Lueck said, adding that strings may be attached to certain funding, requiring it be spent only in designated areas, with an audit trail mandated to track how the money is spent.

For example, Brown has proposed spending $1 billion for textbooks, technology and staff development to help implement new state standards for writing and math that must be adopted by 2014.

That could equate to about $4.4 million for Glendale Unified for implementation of what's called "common core" standards, calculated at a rate of about $170 per student, Lueck said.

Burbank Unified is expecting to receive more than $2 million for common core implementation, Statton said.

Also, schools with more English-language learners or more students who receive free or reduced-price lunches could receive more funding from the state, but it's still unknown how much, she added.

"Beyond that, it is premature to share how much we anticipate receiving in the proposed Local Control Funding Formula revenues," Statton said, referring to Brown's proposal to do away with the layers of categorical funding requirements and instead direct extra resources to the schools and students that need them most.

Lueck said school officials will be attending a workshop in Ontario on Monday about Brown's proposed budget.

"We're going to see how it breaks down," she said.


Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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