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Board Cuts $9.7M and Up to 308 Jobs

2/23/12

California’s ongoing budget crisis resulted in $9.66 million in additional cuts this week by the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education.  The school board also OK’d the elimination of up to 308 more jobs, mostly teaching positions.

The school district, which has cut more than 1,000 positions and $330 million since 2008, faces yet another annual funding loss of between $19 million and $30 million in state funds starting next school year.  The $30 million figure reflects a worst-case scenario in which voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed school revenue initiative in November.

“If that initiative is not passed, we will see cuts that we have not seen in our lifetimes,” LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser told the school board.  “It will truly be armageddon, and the public needs to know that.”

The latest cuts include $1 million in transportation services, which already have been reduced significantly in recent years.  Special education transportation will not be affected.

But with the latest cuts, only about 2,000 regular education students will ride the bus next year, compared to more than 22,000 a few years ago.  Affected parents have been notified.

About $6.2 million in savings will come from the maximization of class sizes.  Though the contractual class size will not change (class sizes already have been increased in recent years), a reduction of about 62 teaching positions could mean more classes that combine grade levels at the K-8 level, and stringent implementation of maximum class sizes at the high school level.  Another $2 million will be saved by cutting 20 English language learner specialist positions.  The previously announced closure of Keller Elementary School was included in this round of reductions for a savings of $460,000.

The job cuts listed in this week’s $9.66 million in reductions are part of a larger total of up to 308 positions OK’d for possible elimination for next school year.  The 308 certificated jobs include the school district’s special and temporary contract teachers, as well as most of the teaching staff at the district’s Child Development Centers and Head Start programs that provide pre-K and other services.

The CDC cuts are a result of state cuts in funding for that program.  And while the local Head Start program and its employees have earned repeated state and national recognition for their exemplary work, the federally funded program is encroaching into the school district’s operating budget, which LBUSD can no longer afford, Steinhauser said.

Some of the 308 positions may be restored depending on variables such as the number of retirements and resignations here, as well as the ever-changing state budget picture.  But the school board’s approval of the potential job reductions allows time to comply with requirements to notify employees by mid-March regarding potential layoffs.  Final layoff notices would be sent in May.

Long Beach Unified School District • 1515 Hughes Way, Long Beach CA 90810 • (562) 997-8000 • www.lbschools.net