Despite a recently approved state budget and an anticipated infusion of about $56 million from the federal government, the Long Beach Unified School District still faces tens of millions of dollars in potential cuts over the next 18 months.
One bright spot in the state budget is that it allows for increased funding flexibility that will allow the school district to make local decisions regarding how to best meet the needs of students with funds that are usually very restricted in their use.
“We got about 70 percent of what we wanted on flexibility,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools. The school district will continue to work with Sacramento to obtain further funding flexibility that would provide greater local control over how state funding is allocated, Steinhauser said.
The state also will receive “stabilization” funding as part of the federal stimulus package, but it remains unclear how much of that funding will go to local schools.
Reducing expenditures is necessary because revenues have been reduced drastically in the state budget, and district operating costs are increasing. For instance, district health care costs tend to increase each year, and LBUSD must pay for step and column increases for employees. These built-in cost increases add to the budget challenge when state funding is dramatically decreased. The end result is that the district is still facing $35 million to $45 million in cuts over the next 18 months.
School district staff continue to analyze the state situation carefully with the aim of providing the best education possible for all students while avoiding laying off employees.