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Orange County Focus

HUNTINGTON BEACH : Two District Budgets Include Deep Cuts

September 16, 1991|JOHN PENNER

Trustees from the Huntington Beach Union High and Huntington Beach City school districts last week approved final 1991-92 budgets that include deep spending cuts proposed earlier this year.

The high school district board, which was forced to slash $3.5 million from the budget during the past year, on Tuesday approved a $79.3-million spending plan. Despite the previous cuts, the board still needed to draw $1.8 million from district reserves to balance the new budget.

Along with the state's financial crisis that has crimped spending for school districts statewide, the high school district has been burdened by a steady enrollment decline, dating back a decade and a half.

During the past five years, the district has shaved $14.5 million from its budget.

"Very fortunately, we've had adequate reserves for the last few years of our decline," Supt. David Hagen said. "Hopefully, this will be the last year we have to dip into that reserve. We'll be making budget cuts again for next year, so (the 1992-93) budget will be balanced."

Hagen projects that the district will have to cut between $1.5 million and $2 million during this school year. Those cuts may jeopardize some key programs and personnel, such as school nurses and psychologists, who were narrowly spared during the latest round of spending reductions last April.

The school board, which last fall slashed $1 million in spending under a five-year plan to balance the budget, trimmed an additional $2.5 million from the budget in the April cuts.

Trustees from the Huntington Beach City School District, having cut $500,000 in spending this summer, on Tuesday approved a $21.275-million budget for the coming year.

The final spending plan includes a $108,500 deficit. The district has $1.3 million remaining in its special reserves, more than double the minimum level required by the state.

To balance the budget next year, the district expects to cut another $500,000, Supt. Duane Dishno said.

Although the district has fared better than many others during the statewide funding crunch, Dishno said the financial picture is expected to grow dimmer in the coming years.

"Unless something happens with how this state finances education--and I don't believe that's going to happen anytime soon--the district may have a real problem in maintaining its programs. It's really going to be a juggling act."

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