State to Pay Part of Integration Bill for Schools in L.B.

July 14, 1985|ELAINE WOO | Staff Writer

The governor has signed a bill that will reimburse the Long Beach Unified School District for $5.2 million in voluntary desegregation costs incurred during the 1984-85 school year. It also assures the district of partial repayment for future costs.

"We should have a check from the state in two or three weeks" for the $5.2 million, said Peter Lippman, the district's budget director and legislative adviser.

Urgency Measure

The district, which voluntarily established a desegregation program in 1972, has been seeking reimbursement for its expenses for the last several years, Lippman said. But so far the district has succeeded in winning repayment only for the 1983-84 and 1984-85 school years. The 1983-84 funds were allocated in an bill signed by the governor earlier this year.

The latest measure, introduced by Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), not only provides Long Beach with funds to cover last year's costs but also sets a ceiling on repayment of future costs. From now on, districts such as Long Beach that desegregate voluntarily will be entitled to reimbursement equal to 80% of their costs in the 1984-85 school year. The repayment will be increased annually with cost-of-living adjustments, Lippman said.

Costs $5.2 Million a Year

According to Long Beach school district spokesman Richard Van Der Laan, it costs the district about $5.2 million a year to run its voluntary desegregation program.

Lippman said the district is entitled to reimbursement for the earlier years of its voluntary desegregation program. But a provision in an Assembly bill that would have paid the district $16.7 million for costs incurred between 1977 and 1983 was deleted when the bill's author and other state officials said that Long Beach was not entitled to the funds.

Under Court Order

The Legislature reimburses districts under court order to desegregate. But it has been unwilling to repay districts that voluntarily adopted and implemented desegregation programs, especially if their claims go back a number of years.

Lippman said he is working with legislators to try to restore the $16.7 million before the end of the current session.

The Vasconcellos bill also will pay three other school districts in Los Angeles with voluntary desegregation claims for the 1983-84 school year. They are Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District ($229,983), Pasadena Unified School District ($1.46 million) and ABC Unified School District ($144,954).

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