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Glendale, Burbank school districts could receive millions in federal stimulus funds

September 02, 2010|By Max Zimbert, max.zimbert@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Leader )

GLENDALE — State legislators this week approved a bill to release millions in one-time federal stimulus funds to Glendale and Burbank school districts, but local officials said nothing would change until the money was in the bank.

But school board members and staff in both cities said their fiscal challenges and positions won't change until the federal dollars are physically or electronically transferred out of Sacramento.

"Yes it's on track and our staff and our team has been very aggressive with this and putting this into our mindset," said Greg Krikorian, president of the Glendale Unified school board. "The important factor here is, until the money's in our bank, we have no clue, and it's a very volatile situation right now."

Both districts took different approaches when Congress and the Obama administration approved stimulus funding to offset state cuts to education.

In Glendale, district officials said they would use the stimulus funds to rehire more than 40 teachers laid off in June. It was a leap of faith, Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

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Savings derived from a tentative contract the district reached late last month with the Glendale Teachers Assn. can sustain Glendale Unified for another year, he said.

"It is still the right move and that's why we built in extra furlough days into the tentative agreement," he said. "If we get [the extra funding] we will take away the two furlough days."

Educators were more cautious in Burbank. District administrators made no promises and took no actions when President Obama signed the Education Jobs and Medicare Assistance Act into law.

The district had saved 67 jobs through a one-year package of concessions the Burbank Teachers Assn. ratified in May. Eliminating one health care plan and taking six unpaid furlough days this school year saved Burbank Unified more than $2.2 million, according to the district's budget.

Burbank Teachers Assn. President Jerry Mullady said the district should use the stimulus money to restore instructional and staff development days that were lost in concessions last spring.

"We feel we did the right thing at the time," he said. "We did the courageous thing to make a step forward so the district would not cut programs."

Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said the district was in a hold pattern until the money arrives, and downplayed any potential conflict with employee unions.

"There are important discussions to be had," he said. "I think our board is hoping there's a bit more clarity as to the state budget, that this isn't going to be given to us in one hand and maybe pulled back in another."

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