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Trustees to Meet in Schools to Broaden Input


HUNTINGTON BEACH — Hoping to encourage more involvement by parents and employees in school affairs, Huntington Beach Union High School District trustees will hold their meetings at school sites beginning next week.

By holding the meetings at high schools instead of the board room at the district's main offices, trustees say they hope to gather a wide range of comments on an array of school issues. They especially hope to get reaction to this year's anticipated budget reductions.

The first school-site board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 8 at Fountain Valley High School. Subsequent meetings are planned for Oct. 22 at Edison High, Nov. 13 at Huntington Beach High, Dec. 10 at Marina High, Jan. 15 at Westminster High and Jan. 28 at Ocean View High.

Before the regular meetings at each of the sites, the board will hold brief presentations on the district's budget picture.

Officials will discuss the district's projected spending shortfall, how declining enrollment has affected the budget, how state lottery revenues are spent and what previous budget cuts have been made. Residents and school employees will also be allowed to ask questions or offer suggestions regarding the budget.

Additionally, during the week before each of the meetings, Supt. David Hagen will visit the school where the meeting is to be held. Hagen will talk with administrators, teachers and other employees about budget issues and specific concerns at each campus.

Due to declining enrollment and state funding problems, trustees have cut $14.5 million from budgets during the last five years and are expected to slash $1.5 million to $2 million more next March.

By inviting comments from employees and residents months before the cuts are made, trustees say they hope to defuse a potentially volatile outcry when the reductions occur.

Hagen said that because so much has already been gouged from the budget, he expects this year's cuts to be the most difficult yet.

"There's very little flexibility left," he said. "We're down to programs that people have very strong feelings about. Obviously, having more input and more communication will be better for the process. But we know people are going to be upset when budget reductions occur, especially if it hits their program."

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