School officials in Beverly Hills predict this year's $26.7-million budget will mark a turnaround in the district's financial woes, while Culver City may face another round of cuts as a result of teacher-salary negotiations.
Both districts have approved budgets that are hinged on a number of uncertainties.
Beverly Hills Supt. Robert French told the Beverly Hills school board that it would not need to ask voters to approve a supplemental property tax if the district continues to operate at its current level. The district receives about $4.4 million from the city and nearly $500,000 in donations from the Beverly Hills Education Foundation, a separate nonprofit organization that raises funds for the schools.
School officials, however, have expressed concern about how long contributions will continue to flow in and how long the city will continue to fund the schools at the current rate.
"I don't see the need for a parcel tax to maintain what we have," French said. The board would be forced to seek voter approval of a plan for a flat-rate tax on each parcel of land in the city if its additional sources of revenue dry up or if the community wants to restore $3 million in cuts that were required to balance the budget, he said. A similar parcel tax was narrowly defeated by the voters in March, 1987.
French said it is probably too late for the board to reach a decision on a tax election in March. To do so, the board would have schedule the election by Nov. 1. "The worst thing to do would be to rush an election," he said.
The Beverly Hills district has a reserve of almost $1 million, which is more than the 3% reserve required by the county.
In Culver City, the chief financial officer Jim Lively predicted that district's tightly balanced $15-million budget could come unglued if teachers demand more than a 2% salary increase. The Culver City school board approved its budget Tuesday night, leaving about $250,000 in reserves.
Lively said the district has enough reserves to support a 2% increase in teacher pay. "Beyond that, we will have to make cuts to make up the difference," he added. Negotiations between the district and the California Teachers Assn., the union representing 250 teachers and other employees, are set to resume today with little hope of a quick settlement.
Adopting a budget without a signed contract from the teachers is not unusual, Lively said. "We will come to an agreement, but it is hard to predict when."
The district will face some problems when it submits its budget to the county. Culver City's reserves are less than 2%; the county requires 3%. "We expect they will require us to submit a plan on how we intend to increase our reserves to 3%," Lively said.