District gets $16.8M back

Money is less than half what was sought; it can be used only for construction.

May 04, 2010|By Max Zimbert

GLENDALE — A state agency has approved reimbursing Glendale Unified School District about $16.8 million for campus improvements, but none of it can be used to offset teacher layoffs, officials said.

The State Allocations Board will compensate Glendale Unified less than half of the roughly $37.9 million district officials requested last year. The funds can be spent only on facilities, Chief Budget Officer Eva Lueck said.

A projected $18.5-million deficit by 2011-12 has set the stage for rounds of teacher layoffs in coming weeks, pitting union leaders against district officials and the school board.


“They cannot be used on personnel, or the budget crisis that has led to reductions of our staffing,” she said.

District officials had already paid for the construction at Hoover High and Columbus Elementary School, so the state appropriation will facilitate construction projects at Glendale High School and elsewhere. That the state did not pay back its full share is emblematic of an ongoing fiscal crisis, Lueck said.

“Great promises get made, but there’s uncertainty when they’ll be kept,” she said. “What this money will allow us to do is . . . provide some money we can borrow from, if necessary.”

California Department of Education officials predict that the number of school-age children will grow by 61,000 in five years, requiring the state to modernize 20 classrooms a day, state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said in a statement.

The allocations board controls locally approved construction bonds, said Kathleen Moore, director of the state Department of Education’s school facilities planning division.

“Because of the fiscal crisis at the state, we have slowed down access to bond funds,” she said. “This is part of that disbursement from the propositions voters voted on to build and modernize schools.”

Restrictions on funding mirror circumstances that, in September, led Glendale school board members to buy $2.3-million worth of apartment real estate next to district headquarters. Representatives for the Glendale Teachers Assn. have repeatedly cited the apartment purchases, one of which was leveled to expand a parking lot, as an example of misplaced priorities.

“The district is using money that could be used to keep teachers in the classroom, called deferred maintenance money, to pave a new parking lot for district employees,” union President Tami Carlson said during a community rally Thursday. “Instead, they want a brand-new parking lot.”

Deferred maintenance account money can be moved to cover employee salaries and benefits, but the district is not using that money on the construction, Deputy Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

School board President Greg Krikorian, who attended the forum last week, called the criticism unfounded.

“As a matter of fact, it’s money we worked hard and diligently to retrieve,” he said. “If we’re just thinking today for tomorrow, we’re doing a disservice to future generations.”

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles