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Palos Verdes School Officials Gird for Cuts

March 19, 1987|BOB WILLIAMS | Times Staff Writer

Palos Verdes Peninsula school officials, riled by the refusal of voters to approve a special school tax early this month, have begun drawing up lists of the cuts in personnel and services that they had warned would follow if the measure was defeated.

District trustees also have decided to revive two other possibilities that have stirred emotional opposition in the past: more school closures and renting surplus campuses to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Administrators were told to forget past restraints and "be creative" in putting together proposals to save money by closing more schools and to bring in revenue by renting campuses already shut down in the district's efforts to deal with declining enrollment.

The board also voted to impose a developer fee, a recourse the trustees had shied away from before the parcel-tax defeat March 3. A state law that became effective Jan. 1 authorized the fees, which have been widely adopted by other districts.

The parcel tax received 63% of the vote, short of the two-thirds majority required for approval. It would have added about $2.4 million to the district's $36 million budget in each of the next five years.

Until the board's decision Monday night, the Peninsula district had spurned overtures from Los Angeles, which is seeking more classroom space to relieve overcrowding in inner-city schools. Some Peninsula residents, at public meetings in recent years, have expressed concern that busing youngsters from Los Angeles into the Peninsula district could lead to increased neighborhood crime and vandalism and more traffic congestion.

Los Angeles school board member John Greenwood said he is "pleased" with the Peninsula board's decision and hopes the details of a multi-year leasing deal can be worked out.

The extra space could be used to relieve overcrowding, or it might provide classrooms for special programs, such as helping immigrant children to adjust to a different language and culture, Greenwood said in an interview.

He said he understood that the Peninsula schools, which he noted are close to Los Angeles campuses in San Pedro and Lomita, could accommodate up to 1,000 children, depending on student-teacher ratios. Nancy Mahr, a spokeswoman for the Peninsula district, said campuses that might be considered for renting to Los Angeles are Margate Intermediate in Palos Verdes Estates, and Dapplegray Intermediate and Pedregal and Miraleste elementaries in Rancho Palos Verdes.

She said the board expects to review administration proposals at its April 6 meeting. The trustees also will continue to study a long list of proposed cuts in employees and services, while keeping an eye on what the Legislature might do increase school funding, Mahr said.

The list, which Supt. Jack Price said would cut $1.6 million from next year's budget, would eliminate or reduce 64 full- and part-time positions, cut back on counseling and testing services, reduce classroom supplies and maintenance and drop a number of elective courses.

No teacher layoffs were needed, he said, because of the impending resignation of 16 faculty members, 11 of them on the district's early retirement plan.

The rest of a projected $2-million shortfall would be covered by slashing $200,000 from next year's contingency fund, now estimated at $700,000, officials said.

In other actions Monday night, the board voted to return the vacant Via Zurita elementary school site in Palos Verdes Estates to the Palos Verdes Homes Assn. The association will, in turn, dedicate the 10.2-acre parcel to the city for use as parkland. It has been used largely for Little League games since the district acquired the property in 1938.

Mahr said the district decided to give up the deed-restricted parcel to save a $30,000-a-year utility improvement assessment. The association will take over the balance of payments on the assessment, which comes to about $75,000, she said.

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