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    News in Depth / Perspective

    We List Members Of Non-Elected LBUSD Budget Advisory Committee That Staff Says Will Recommend School District Cuts; Final Decision Rests With Elected School Board Members

    Introduction / Perspective

    (January 4, 2004) -- At the December 16, 2003 meeting of the LB Unified School District (LBUSD) governing board, LBUSD Financial Services Officer Larry Bozanich publicly stated that LB's school district -- the 3d largest in CA -- may not be able to meet its minimum state financial reserve requirement.

    Mr. Bozanich indicated that for six years, the district spent more than it brought in...and over a period of five years, LBUSD's ending balance fell from $72 million to $23 million. He added that although the district had already made what was termed $40 million in internal savings over several years, School Board members could still be faced with making millions of dollars in cuts to put spending and revenue in balance.

    LB's five elected School Board members have ultimate authority over how the district's public money is spent. Subject to certain legal mandates, elected Board members -- not the non-elected Superintendent, staff or any advisory group -- ultimately decide what the district spends or cuts.

    However, Mr. Bozanich indicated that a non-elected advisory committee is examining areas for possible cuts and will make recommendations at some point to the Board. At the Board's Dec. 16 meeting, Boardmembers did not indicate whether they themselves would discuss cuts as a Board, or vote on them, before the spring 2004 School Board elections.

    After the meeting, we asked LBUSD spokesman Dick Van Der Laan for a list of the advisory committee's members and received the information which we post below, with names and descriptions as provided by LBUSD.

    We also post below the verbatim text of Mr. Van Der Laan's accompanying email to us which we believe provides the district's perspective.

    During the Dec. 16 Board meeting, 4th district School Board Member Jon Meyer asked the LBUSD Financial Services Officer, "Now currently do we not have a broad-based committee of businesspeople, parents, staff that are looking at where we might make budget cuts?"

    Mr. Bozanich replied, "Yes, and those meetings have proceeded up until a short time, and we have two meetings scheduled for January...One of the things they're asking for is what's mandated, what's optional, and we're going to try to present that kind of information to the committee."

    3d district Boardmember Suja Lowenthal followed and said, "Also on that budget committee that we have, the business-based budget committee, have they started to make their recommendations yet? I mean I love the idea that we're having a fresh group of people looking at things...I think it will help, but have any clues as to what their thinking is?"

    Mr. Bozanich replied, "Nothing concrete. They're starting to ask the kinds of questions that'll get us to list the programs, how much they cost, which programs are not cost-neutral, that is programs that spend more than the revenue we get, and we'll have that kind of information for them. At the last meeting, we left it open to submit any questions that they do have over the holiday to us and we'll have a series of reports available to them in advance of the meetings..."

    [begin LBUSD text]

    Budget Advisory Group

    Darlene AndersonDistrict Community Advisory Committee
    Laurie AngelCommunity Member
    Shawn AshleyHigh School Principal
    Ruth AshleyAssociation of Long Beach Educational Managers
    Lawrence BozanichFinancial Services Officer
    Melanie BrossusSpecial Education
    Steven ChesserBoeing
    Maria CortezDistrict English Learner Advisory Committee
    Ramon CurielPersonnel Administrator
    Camie DeanPTA Council President
    Karen DeVriesAssistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools
    Tony DiazPresident, Teachers Association of Long Beach
    Christine DominguezAssistant Superintendent, Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Development
    Dr. Charles DurninCommunity Member
    Charlene EbrightCommunity Member
    Judy ElliottAssistant Superintendent, Special Education
    Vern GatesCalifornia School Employees Association Representative
    Dorothy HarperDeputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Middle Schools
    Marc HyattTeachers Association of Long Beach Representative
    Ray JankowskiCommunity Hospital
    Carolyn JensenDirector, Special Projects
    Susan LivesayBudget Director
    Lydia MarshallDistrict Community Advisory Committee
    Mike MurrayVerizon
    Tomio NishimuraChief Business and Financial Officer
    Val PharrPresident, L.B. Branch, California School Employees Association
    Jean ReynoldsElementary School Principal
    Frank RodriguezMiddle School Principal
    Alexis Ruiz-AlessiInterpreter for M. Cortez
    Joe SchesslerCalifornia School Employees Association Representative
    Christopher SteinhauserSuperintendent
    Rocky SuaresLong Beach Education Foundation
    Marsha SullivanAssistant Superintendent, Human Resource Services
    Al TaylorHigh School Principal
    Margaret Vento-WilsonCommunity Member
    Maggie WebsterAssistant Superintendent, High Schools

    LBUSD Van Der Laan email text to

    Attached [above] is the roster of the Budget Advisory Group the superintendent has asked to recommend additional cuts beyond the $42 million the district has already cut during the past three years (2001, 2002 & 2003). They will be looking at possible cuts for 2004-05 fiscal year (beginning July 1, 2004). Board of Education members may participate as ex-officio members. Their recommendations should be ready by March.

    Already in the works by staff are five midyear steps to improve our financial outlook in time for the second Interim Financial Report in March:

    1. Strict control over non-regular salary expenditures from non-categorical funds. Such expenses include overtime, additional hourly assignments, and teacher substitutes (other than for illness absence). Prior approval by the appropriate division administrator is required. Exception: Health and Safety situations.

    2. Curtail all travel/conference expenses using non-categorical funds.

    3. Utilize categorical funds to purchase budgeted books, supplies and other operating expenses.

    4. Strictly monitor contract creation/modification using non-categorical resources.

    5. Freeze on equipment purchases and other deferrable expenses.

    News from Sacramento in January should give California schools a clearer idea of what to expect in state funding, which could change the picture.

    No one could have predicted recent dramatic increases in the cost of health insurance, worker's compensation and the impact of state budget cuts. We must deal with these realities and take whatever steps are necessary to live within reduced state funding that is now thousands of dollars per student below that of many large industrial states with which we must compete. Compared to those states, we operate very cost-effective schools. We have literally done more with less-winning the 2003 Broad Prize for Urban Education in competition with large school districts that receive significantly more state funding per student.

    We have used reserves to narrow the achievement gap and to avert layoffs, K-3 class-size increase and other cuts that affect classroom instruction--cuts that some other school districts have made in recent years. Our goal is to meet the state's reserve requirements without damaging the education of students. In the months ahead, we hope to have carefully prepared recommendations for Board of Education action that will allow the district to protect classroom instruction and live within limited revenue.

    Previous coverage:

  • LBUSD Had Policy Of Spending Down Its Formerly Large Surplus, Now Blames Sac'to For District's Serious Financial Situation

  • Bombshell LB School District Disclosure:

  • Return To Front Page

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