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Same information, different results

November 25, 2011

In the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series, readers were the protagonists who, as they moved from chapter to chapter, were forced to make choices that eventually led to one of dozens of possible outcomes.

So two people reading the same book, making decisions based on the same information, would reach very different outcomes.

The school districts in Burbank and Glendale have been dealt the same book. The plotline centers on a state government that continues to choke off their funding while at the same time demanding student testing improvements. Meanwhile, the cost of employee benefits continues to rise and parents demand low student-teacher ratios in the classroom.

But in this “Choose Your Own Adventure,” Burbank Unified continues to make decisions that appear to steer it toward a more financially conservative outcome, while Glendale — well, it’s still stuck on Chapter 2.

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This week, teachers and administrators in Burbank agreed to six unpaid work furlough days designed to save the district about $1.8 million. Both sides had to give a little, but the deal was reached to stem the tide of deficit spending, now at about $4 million annually.

A similar decision was made in Glendale in August 2010, when, in the face of serious budget cuts, the Glendale Teachers Assn. and school district signed off on nine unpaid furlough days spread out during three consecutive school years.

Recently, the union has been fighting to have those furlough days rescinded after Glendale Unified got an influx of one-time money from the federal jobs bill. District officials want to keep the remaining furlough days on the books in case they are needed.

But union president Tami Carlson has called for the days to be eliminated immediately, saying they were “tied to where we were in 2009-10.”

“That clearly is not the case anymore,” she said.

And there, given the recent concessions in Burbank, the storylines diverge in this issue of “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
 
 

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