By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
Tuesday’s Glendale Unified School District board meeting brought another round of revisions to the district’s 2013-14 budget. The budget, which underwent its first revision using Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) estimates, still contains a multitude of unknown variables.
“There are still a lot of uncertainties with the LCFF,” said Superintendent Dick Sheehan. The state has yet to provide districts with a method to confidently project their budgets.
“I am not comfortable with the numbers until the state can tell us the numbers,” said Sheehan, referring to the School Services of California, a private company that provides a LCFF simulator to districts.
Sheehan and district staff recommended that the board adopt “Class Size Scenario 2,” one of four options prepared by staff for the board’s consideration. This option, which passed unanimously, will increase class size for grades one through three from an average of 24 students per teacher to an average of 26 students.
Scenario 2 also includes a potential 1% pay increase for all GUSD employees, a first in seven years that would cost the district $1.5 million, and hiring of eight additional full time employees costing approximately $700,000.
School board member Mary Boger mentioned that in her 12 years on the board, this is the first time the district has received more money.
“The only joy I can find in this budget is that these numbers are single digits, finally,” she said of the district’s projected-to-decrease structural deficit.
Though elementary level class sizes were the primary concern Tuesday night, Boger said, “I’m equally concerned about the high school teacher that has 190 students.”
Citing Glendale, La Cañada and Calabasas school districts, fellow school board member Greg Krikorian noted, “The districts that have been responsible are getting hit with more of a challenge.” GUSD and other districts are still unaware of the amount they will be penalized for increasing class sizes.
Despite budgetary uncertainties, GUSD has several active district-wide facilities projects. A regular Measure S update informed the board that five more campuses have installed solar panels this summer.
Those five – Balboa, Fremont and Marshall Elementary schools, Roosevelt Middle School and Glendale High School – join seven campuses, including Crescenta Valley High School, that have already gone solar.
GUSD will also continue its negotiations with La Cañada Unified regarding the “territory transfer” of the area known as “Sagebrush” territory. Krikorian, who is negotiating for GUSD, said the conversations are “very positive.”