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$1.4-Million Budget Cut Proposed for High Schools

April 09, 1989|MARY LOU FULTON | Times Staff Writer

WHITTIER — Nearly 280 Whittier-area high school students would lose bus service and four high schools would go without librarians as part of a $1.4-million budget cut proposed by officials of the Whittier Union High School District.

Supt. Lee Eastwood blamed the budget shortfall on a combination of circumstances, including declining enrollment and the high cost of medical benefits for district employees.

"We tried to keep the cuts directly away from the classroom, although the library comes rather close," Eastwood said.

This is the second consecutive year of major budget cuts for the district that serves 8,889 students at five high schools in Whittier and Santa Fe Springs. Last year, the district's board of trustees cut $1.9 million from its $40-million budget.

The board is scheduled to discuss the proposed budget at Tuesday night's meeting, and is expected to vote in late April or early May. The proposal would cut about $627,000 at the school level and about $812,000 at the district level.

Cutoff for Bus Service

The budget would eliminate bus service in September for students who live less than three miles from school. The current cutoff for bus service is 2 1/2 miles. California High School students would be the most heavily affected, with 161 losing the service.

Restructuring the supervision of school libraries would save the district another $166,000. The budget proposes combining the career center at two schools with the library, an arrangement already in place at Whittier and Frontier high schools. The career center coordinator would supervise both services.

Of the four librarians whose positions are being eliminated, one will retire, one will resign and two willbecome teachers. The district will retain one librarian to supervise overall library services.

Eastwood said the district faces hard financial times for at least another two years until enrollment figures are projected to bottom out. Because the state funds schools based on average daily attendance, the decline of about 300 students this school year cost the district $350,000 to $400,000, Eastwood said. Average daily attendance in the Whittier district has declined by about 1,000 students since 1985.

Enrollment is expected to drop by another 50 students in the 1989-90 school year, according to district projections, then begin climbing again the next year. But because the state uses last year's enrollment figures to fund schools for the current year, Eastwood said, it will be two years before the district receives an increase in money from the state.

An unexpected 32% increase in the cost of medical benefits for district employees and a state-required $250,000 increase in the district's worker's compensation fund also is responsible for the budget cuts, Eastwood said.

Other proposed cuts in next year's budget include:

Eliminating six periods each of athletics and freshman English because of declining enrollment, saving $209,000.

Cutting 1 1/2 teaching positions at Frontier High School, the district's adult continuation school.

Reducing summer school from seven to six weeks, saving about $33,000. A summer counseling program budget would be cut from $69,000 to $39,000.

Cutting $15,000 from a fund that pays for school band and athletic trips. Parents and students would be asked to make up the difference.

Cutting $50,000 from a $240,000 program that helps teen-age mothers earn high school degrees.

Eliminating the district's $50,000 contribution to the cafeteria. Food service managers would be responsible for implementing the cut, which might result in higher prices or fewer offerings.

Reducing salaries by about $300,000 at the district level, including eliminating the public relations consultant, a switchboard operator, a custodian, a janitor, one of the superintendent's two secretaries and eight clerical positions.

Eliminating the Stay Well health and exercise program for district employees, which costs $37,000.

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