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Beverly Hills Targets $1 Million for Schools

May 18, 1986|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

The Beverly Hills City Council has tentatively agreed to pay an additional $1 million to the Beverly Hills Unified School District to prevent a shortfall that school officials said would have forced them to make major cuts before the term begins in September.

Mayor Charlotte Spadaro said that the agreement will provide the district with enough revenue to balance its budget for the 1986-87 school year. She said the city will continue talking with school officials to develop a long-term arrangement to help the district cover its continuing shortfalls.

"I'm very pleased about this," Spadaro said. "It gives them what they need for the first year and then gives us some time to decide where to go from here."

The additional money will boost the total the city pays the school district to $2.2 million. The City Council is expected to vote on the increase within the next few weeks.

School officials said that they need at least $1 million to balance their 1986-87 budget. The district faces an annual shortfall of $2 million to $3 million on an operating budget of about $26 million.

"We have pointed out to the city that the district would need several million to get through the next few years," school board President Frank Fenton said. "The city seems to be saying that they understand and that they are willing to make a long-range commitment."

In return for the additional revenues, Fenton said, the city will ask the district to provide it with budget projections over the next few years. He said city officials also said they may hire their own auditors to review the district's books.

"That is all right with us; our books are all open to the public," Fenton said.

The city provides money to the school district under a joint-powers agreement in which the city rents school playgrounds and other facilities. State law prevents the city from giving direct gifts to other governmental bodies.

Bailing out the school district was one of the major issues in last month's City Council election. Spadaro said that city support for the schools would be the first order of business before the new City Council.

She said that the city's long-term commitment to the schools would be based on an evaluation of district and city finances.

According to Spadaro, that commitment will not be decided upon until later this year. Fenton said that figure will determine the amount of a parcel tax that will be submitted to voters next year. The district will propose a tax on each parcel of land in the city. Two-thirds of the voters in the city must approve it.

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