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Parents Protest Beverly Hills School Layoff Plan

February 09, 1986|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

Some of the parents attending last week's public forum on the Beverly Hills Unified School District's proposed budget cuts roundly criticized a proposal to reduce the staff by up to 90 positions.

More than 200 people attended the Board of Education's public forum at Hawthorne School Wednesday to hear details of the district's plan to trim $2.4 million from a projected $3.7-million budget deficit at the end of the 1986-87 school year.

"We don't want cuts," parent Bobbi Siegman told the board. "We want you to take all your energies and put them into revenue enhancement (raising money for the district). . . . You are our elected officials. It is your job to do this."

'I Cannot Understand'

"I cannot fathom the cuts that you wish to make," Esther Glusman, a retired teacher, said. "I cannot understand why you would let one teacher go. I cannot see how you could do away with any nurses, with reading specialists--you must have them. I would like to suggest that this district does not need three superintendents and two principals at each school."

Supt. Leon Lessinger told the audience that the "Board of Education has repeatedly said, 'We need to know where we can cut if we have to cut, and more happily, where we can raise money because we need to find more (revenue) sources.' "

Many of the almost 40 speakers who addressed the board said that the cuts would affect the most popular programs in the district, including library services and programs in computer science, foreign language, music and art, athletics and driver education.

The plans include reducing through attrition and layoffs up to 90 positions, including teachers and teachers' aides, nurses, custodial and maintenance workers, librarians, gardeners and counselors.

The school board will decide on Feb. 25 which cuts to make. State law requires that layoff notices be issued by March 15 if they are to take effect in September at the start of the school year.

'Difficult Times'

"There are going to be difficult times that will involve cuts and fund-raising," school board member Mark Egerman said. "The critical thing is to get the budget in balance either through cuts or added revenues so that year after year we can maintain our program."

But parents suggested that more be done to raise money in the community. The district plans to ask the voters for a parcel tax, but that would require approval by two-thirds of the registered voters in the city. Other options include increasing the production of oil from wells operated on the high school campus and marketing T-shirts with a Beverly Hills logo nationwide.

However, school board President Frank Fenton cautioned parents against placing too much emphasis on private efforts.

"We are not talking about having a dinner," he said. "It is wonderful to say, 'Let's have a dinner and raise the money.' But we are talking about major funds and this will not be solved by having a banquet."

No Increases

The district's budget projections do not include a salary increase for the teachers. Contract negotiations with the Beverly Hills Teachers Assn. are expected to resume Wednesday. The teachers have asked for approval of a three-year contract including a 6.3% salary increase recommended by an independent fact finder. School officials have said that the district cannot afford the increase.

Ken Goldman, one of few parents to speak in favor of proposed cuts, said, "Cuts in special programs and electives will hurt, but we must face up to the (deficit) now and we must be responsible and responsive now.

"I hope everyone realizes that we can't wait and we can't just sit around and hope. In the past when the district had the funds these teachers were paid at the very top of the scale. When we had it, we shared it. But now there is a problem and I would hope that the teachers share in the solution at least for a year, as unfair as that may be."

Another public forum was conducted Thursday night at Beverly Vista School.

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