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Child-Care Center's Deficit Surpasses $453,000

July 16, 1987|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

Burbank Unified School District officials are investigating a deficit of more than $453,000 that accumulated over three years at a Burbank child-care center, the district's superintendent said.

Supt. Wayne Boulding said last week the deficit at the 180-child Horace Mann Children's Center was the result of mismanagement of the center's $750,000-a-year budget.

He said Friday that the shortage went unnoticed until last year because the budgets for all three of the district's child-care programs were reported together in one account, and that account did not indicate any loss.

The district has two other child-care programs, one state-subsidized and the other parent supported, for school-age children.

Breakdown of Losses

Because of the reporting system, Horace Mann center's losses were not evident sooner, Boulding said. He said the center had lost more than $100,000 by the end of the 1984-85 school year, close to $200,000 by the end of the 1985-86 school year and close to $100,000 by the end of this school year.

He said he ordered an investigation and a breakdown of the various child-care costs after the programs showed a cumulative loss last year.

Boulding said there is no plan to close the center, which cares for children of city employees and workers at several Burbank-based companies, such as Lockheed and the Burbank Studios.

But there is no immediate solution, officials said. A three-hour meeting Friday of Boulding, school officials and several representatives of the member companies ended without reaching a resolution.

Parents of children enrolled in the center have complained to the school board recently, saying they do not want fees raised to help cover the loss.

Boulding said he was ready to take responsibility for the shortfall.

"The blame can't go anywhere else but to me," he said. "We were offering a better program at the center than we could afford."

He said most of the center's expenditures were for staff salaries and benefits. "We're going to have to look at our staffing in relation to the children we have," he said. "We spent more than we took in with the fees we charged."

Boulding, who announced his retirement earlier this year, is scheduled to leave the district next month.

The district opened Horace Mann center in October, 1984, in coordination with several Burbank companies that wanted to establish a child-care center for their employees.

The companies each contributed $10,000 to remodel the facility, which had been an elementary school.

Twenty spaces at the center were allotted to each company, and employees paid $80 to $115 a week to enroll their children. The ages of the youngsters ranged from 2 to 5.

School board President William Abbey said the board is trying to determine the future of the center, which is part of an experimental child-care program that was scheduled to end in October.

"It's clearly needed in the community, but we need additional information on what our options are," he said.

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