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School officials:

We have no choice on layoffs

If the board can’t balance budget, state regulators could step in.

May 08, 2010|By Max Zimbert

Failing to lay off teachers would lead to fiscal ruin and, eventually, state intervention, Glendale Unified School District officials said.

State law requires school boards maintain balanced budgets three consecutive years out, and Glendale Unified officials estimate a $18.5-million deficit by 2011-12. When school boards cannot or do not budget adequately, state regulators appoint a trustee who makes the tough decisions.

“They are all powerful,” Chief Financial Officer Eva Lueck said. “They sit at the board meetings and they have unilateral authority over the board members and they can veto any of their decisions.”

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The district will be fiscally stable through 2011-12 because of the $5 million saved by increasing class sizes up to 30 students, $3.8 million in annual savings from the tentative agreement with the Glendale Teachers Assn., similar concessions from other employee groups, and $700,000 in annual savings derived from a new summer school program, officials said.

“There are scenarios where teachers are all employed, but ultimately the district pays the price because it can’t make its financial obligations,” Supt. Michael Escalante said. “[And] if the contract doesn’t get ratified, it becomes that much more difficult to project how and when people will be brought back.”

As a public agency, Glendale Unified receives more than 90% of its revenue from state funding. And by law, California must spend 40% of its budget on education.

Legislators are working to close a roughly $20-billion deficit, and they have already cut $17 billion from education spending the last two years, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the state Department of Education.

Lawmakers have made some adjustments in recent weeks, but they aren’t expected to make a significant dent in the projected deficit.

Public education is on the hook for another $2.4 billion in cuts again this year, state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said in a statement.

“We know we’re 40% of that budget, so we know we’re going to take another hit,” Escalante said. “They can’t make money out of nothing.”

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