GUSD Board Budget Meeting



The Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) board of education called a special meeting on April 29 to discuss the budget for the upcoming school year. During the closed session, the board discussed labor negotiations with representatives from the Glendale Teachers Association (GTA).

Talin Arsenian, president of the GTA, said the true crisis schools are facing is not a shortage of money, but the hiring crisis that will affect students’ educations.

“The 2024-2025 school year will likely begin with some classrooms without assigned certificated teachers, how the number of classrooms without highly qualified teachers are growing, how disruptive it is for students’ academic and social development when they do not have access to highly qualified educators, how without competitive wages these problems cannot be fixed and will only worsen,” said Arsenian. “At the April 19 bargaining session GUSD’s bargaining team shared with GTA’s bargaining team what to expect at today’s budget study session. Tonight, you will hear a thorough explanation about how schools are funded in California. The exact same interim report that was presented in January. The exact same doom-and-gloom forecast about future years’ funding. But what you need to hear and study tonight is a different doom and gloom story. GUSD’s truly dystopian story is how GUSD is currently experiencing a hiring crisis.”

Staff covered the 2023-24 budget development process, major budget assumptions, revenue sources, expenditures and reserves that make up the operating budget along with the building blocks for a multi year projection.

GUSD’s budget is revised based on the state’s budget, estimated to be in a $37.9 billion shortfall, according to the district’s School Services of California January 2024 workshop presentation. The breakdown of education budgets depends on the district’s needs, and the needs of students. Districts with more English language learners, foster youth or low income students are given additional funds, according to the budget presentation given at the meeting.

Ninety-three percent of the state’s income comes from personal income tax, sales tax and corporate tax.

The money districts have received stays the same, there have been no reductions from school district budget so far.

Funds school districts receive are adjusted based on inflation, taxes, government revenue and allocations are determined largely by enrollment numbers and the number of students in daily attendance, said Santhasundari Rajiv, chief financial officer, during her presentation to the GUSD board.

Employee salaries and benefits account for 88% of the district’s budget. Payroll for staff added during COVID is now being spent with the general fund, now that COVID funds are no longer provided. Increased spending on special education, almost 28% more compared to last year’s budget, is also pushing costs.

Providing employees with the most comprehensive health plan in LA County has the district spending $51.5 million, a $30 million increase from similar districts, instead of distributing for salaries. Of every $100 the district gets, the district sends $88 to staff health plans, said Rajiv.

In addition to this, the district’s funds allocated toward special education have increased each year.Staff said those increases are unusual, and should be addressed.

“If you compare salaries, we are not the top, but that is because we chose to give you a better health plan,” Rajiv said

Debbie Dill, an outside consultant for budget support and former interim Chief Budget Officer for GUSD, was brought on to assist with balancing district’s budget.

In her initial findings, Dill said, inflation as well as restricted funds, cost of living and other uncontrolled costs make it difficult to balance the budget. On the expense side, she discussed how significant decreases in the state’s funding were not anticipated, making adjustments for those out of control elements of the budget make it difficult to balance other parts of the funding that is controlled. She recommended spending restricted funds left over, evaluating vacancies versus positions contracted out and being careful how one-time funds are used.

“It’s hard to fill some of these positions, so I get it. In order to meet your required obligations, you will have to cover outside services, but how many vacancies do we really have represented in this budget? Budgets are built on assumptions and priorities. Part of that is how you are funded,” Dill said.