LONG BEACH — School officials here said Wednesday that their financially strapped school district will hire more teachers and reinstate programs cut last year by using the $5.2 million it will get from the state to cover the cost of past voluntary desegregation programs.
The money was authorized in a bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. George Deukmejian.
"We're really pleased about the money," said Charles C. Carpenter, deputy superintendent for instruction. "We're going to examine the (program) restorations that have to be made. But the money will also go for such things as providing additional teachers to keep up with the growth in enrollment we're experiencing this year.
"And we'll also look at some one-time expenditures for maintenance," Carpenter said. "We made huge cuts in maintenance last year."
SB1, which was sponsored by state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys), will reimburse Long Beach and five other school districts about $31.7 million for desegregation costs incurred during the 1982-83 and 1983-84 school years.
"The school districts will get the money virtually immediately," Robbins said. "This money is necessary. If the bill had not been signed, in order to handle their cash flow, the districts would have had to make cutbacks in programs in the current semester."
By signing the bill Tuesday, the governor fulfilled a promise he made last September to the Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego school districts.
On Sept. 26, Deukmejian mistakenly pared down a $33.1-million claims bill that would have reimbursed California municipal and state agencies for a variety of expenses. He vetoed all but $1.4 million in the bill, taking out all reimbursement for past desegregation costs that would have gone to the six school districts.
The next week, the governor's aides said the veto was "a mistake pure and simple," the product of the end-of-legislative-session rush. Bob Taylor, Deukmejian's deputy press secretary, said at the time that the governor had believed the prior desegregation costs were covered in an earlier reimbursement bill he had signed in July.
When Deukmejian realized his mistake, Taylor said, he immediately pledged to do everything in his power to get an emergency bill passed when the legislature reconvened in December. SB1 was introduced in the Senate on Dec. 3 and signed Tuesday.
Teri Burns, Robbins' legislative assistant, said that the $31.7 million will be distributed as follows:
- Long Beach, $5.1 million for costs incurred in the 1982-83 school year for voluntary desegregation;
- San Diego, $417,000 for 1982-83 court-ordered desegregation costs;
- San Jose, $645,000 for 1983-84 voluntary desegregation costs;
- San Francisco, $3.5 million for 1983-84 court-ordered desegregation costs;
- San Bernardino, $573,000 for 1982-83 court-ordered desegregation costs,
- and Los Angeles, $21.4 million for 1982-83 court-ordered desegregation costs.
"This is the identical money" that Deukmejian vetoed last year, Burns said, adding that the districts will be paid by the end of the month.
Long Beach school officials were counting on the reimbursement last September to help ease their district's budget crunch. At the beginning of September, the board of education adopted a $221-million budget for the 1984-85 school year, cutting more than $8 million in operating costs it otherwise would have approved.
School upkeep was hardest hit by the budget cuts. Allocations for the custodial staff at elementary and secondary schools were cut an estimated $899,000 and funds for building maintenance were trimmed nearly $1.5 million. Funding for magnet programs was cut by $190,000, and high school vocational education programs were reduced by $400,000.
"These funds will be of great assistance," Carpenter said.