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Santa Monica Schools Vote Budget Cut, Teacher Raise

August 20, 1987|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

Less than 24 hours after reaching a tentative agreement with the teachers union that calls for a wage increase, the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education approved $600,000 in cuts in its 1987-88 budget.

The tentative agreement with the 450-member Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Assn. was reached after an 18-hour negotiating session that ended at 3 a.m. Tuesday in the district's headquarters.

The agreement, which must be ratified by the teachers and get final approval from the board, includes a 2% salary increase for the current school year and a 5% increase next year. The wage package is expected to cost the district about $485,600 the first year if it is applied to custodial and clerical workers, who also must vote on the contract.

School officials said the district will be forced to make additional budget cuts to pay for the package.

"There is no question about it, we realize that we are going to have to make cuts over the next two years to reach our contract obligations," said school board President Mary Kay Kamath.

Both sides said they were forced to give in a little during the drawn-out negotiating session.

"The sign of a fair negotiating session is when everybody says we gave more than we wanted to," board member Connie Jenkins said. "We didn't get exactly what we wanted and neither did they."

"I think it is the best agreement we can get under the circumstances," said June Lucas, president of the teachers union. "We fought hard to get a salary agreement, even if it's not a huge agreement."

Lucas said it was unfortunate that negotiations were concluded while the district was contemplating budget cuts. "They were having to make cuts anyway," she said.

The district needs to trim a total of $1.2 million to balance the $32-million budget, said Michael McCarty, the district's business manager.

The board's cuts, approved Tuesday night, will reduce overtime and other expenses, delay building improvements and eliminate staff positions, including three teaching jobs. McCarty said staff cuts will be made through attrition and that no employees will be fired.

The district must trim an additional $600,000 by Aug. 31, when the board is slated to give final approval to its budget. McCarty said the district might eliminate another $300,000 by reducing the size of its reserves.

"It is reachable, we are not that far off," McCarty said. "But we have to dig down and find other areas to cut. And the deeper we go the more painful it will be. That is the hard part, finding the least painful way."

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