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Bassett Considering School Closure, Teacher and Staff Layoffs in Budget Dilemma

May 16, 1985|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

BASSETT — The Bassett Unified School District, faced with a budget crunch caused by declining enrollment, is reviewing several cost-cutting measures, including closure of one of its five elementary schools and the layoff of at least three teachers and up to 15 other full- and part-time employees.

Two advisory committees made the recommendations after the school board asked them to find ways to cut $600,000 out of the $14.5-million general fund budget for the 1985-86 school year. The board will study the recommendations and expects to make a decision by the end of the school year, June 21, said Supt. Will Snyder.

The biggest saving--$100,000 to $150,000--would come from the closure of Bassett Elementary School, he said. Snyder said the building, constructed in the 1890s, is below standard, with no air conditioning and windows that do not open. He said there is space at other elementary schools for the school's 400 students. He added that the school's teachers would also go to the other locations.

Snyder said that while many districts with a high minority population have increasing enrollments, Bassett is in an unusual situation: Seventy-five per cent of the 5,000 students are Latino, but the district has lost 1,000 students since 1980.

Snyder said families tend to retain their homes even after their children are past school age. Moreover, he said, the district is competing with several parochial schools which attract a large number of students. The district serves portions of La Puente, West Covina, Baldwin Park and Industry.

The advisory committees have also recommended eliminating three to five teaching positions at Bassett High School for a saving of $100,000, cutting the district security department in half for a saving of $70,000, and eliminating four custodial positions for a saving of $60,000.

An undetermined amount of money would be saved by closing the district office one day a week during the summer, Snyder said. Employees would have the option of working a long four-day week or using one day of vacation weekly, he said.

In addition, the committees recommended eliminating the position of assistant superintendent of instructional services and dropping a secretary, but adding a clerical worker, for a saving of $60,000. Snyder said the county schools will be asked to study this recommendation.

The final recommendation is to close the Bassett High School swimming pool during the summer for a saving of $14,000. Snyder said this would be difficult because people in the community raised the money to build the pool. He said the district might ask the City of La Puente to take over operation of the pool.

The committees, consisting of members of the community, teachers, classified personnel and principals, began the study in December. Meetings for parents of students at Bassett Elementary have been held and several public hearings are scheduled before a final decision is made.

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