[BHS etree] BUSD: Important Budget Update from Superintendent Huyett

bhs at idiom.com bhs at idiom.com
Tue Mar 10 20:50:38 PDT 2009

Important Budget Update from Superintendent Huyett

March 10, 2009

	Since I wrote my first letter on the school budget this spring
much has changed, but the overall budget problem has remained: The
district must make significant budget cuts both in the current year
(2008-2009) and next year (2009-10). The prospects for budget relief
in 2010-11 are dimming.
	The good news, if you want to call it that, is that there is
an actual state budget for 2009-10 on which to base next year's
budget. There is a revised state budget for 2008-09 as well. The
bottom line is this:  Berkeley Unified needs to cut $3 million out of
its General Fund in this school year, and $4.9 million in 2009-10.
Additionally, many categorical funds (funds dedicated to a special
purpose) are being cut 15% this year and an additional 4.3% in
2009-10. Both the General Fund reduction and the categorical cuts will
hurt our schools in significant ways.
	Through steps we took as a district to curb expenses including
a hiring freeze, and flexibility from the state to sweep unspent
categorical funds, the district has been able to make the $3 million
in one-time cuts in 2008-09 without immediate program reductions in
our preK-12 schools.
	However, the ongoing $4.9 million in General Fund budget
reductions in 2009-10 will require significant staff reductions. The
district must give notice to many certificated staff - teachers,
administrators, and counselors - that it may not continue to employ
them in 2009-10. By law, notice must be given before March 15th.
	My staff's recommendation is to keep class size at the current
levels as prescribed by Measure A (BSEP), though enough layoff notices
were given to allow the School Board flexibility to raise class size
if need be. The Board took action to approve these possible
certificated layoffs at its March 4th meeting. Giving such notice is
disruptive to people's lives and to the children we serve, but is
required by the State mandated timelines.  Layoffs of classified staff
(non-teachers) are governed by different laws, and layoff notices will
be given in April.
	As schools decide their budgets, especially regarding Teachers
on Special Assignments (TSAs) and the district office does the same,
and as the School Board makes decisions on class size and budget
reductions, many teacher layoff notices will be rescinded. District
staff will work hard to make sure teachers are removed from the layoff
list as quick as possible.
	BSEP funds are not being proposed to be used as a primary
source for budget reductions, but are identified as a back-up plan for
two funding uncertainties; both having to do with federal stimulus
money. The district has proposed to use new Title I money to support
the ULSS program costs and new IDEA federal funds to cover increasing
special education costs.  One of these changes would require changes
in the teacher's contract and both require that the state pass through
the federal stimulus money.
	Should these conditions not happen, my staff proposes that the
BSEP "enhancements" be either eliminated or reduced. These funds
currently support expanded course offerings at the high school, middle
school counseling and math class size reduction, and reducing the
number of split grade classes in the elementary schools.
	As I wrote in February, I have asked my staff to make a
preliminary list of budget reductions, which form the basis of the
certificated layoff notices. This list will be reviewed by the
Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee. The committee is composed
of both employees (including all bargaining units) and community
members, and will review the proposals and will make their own
recommendations to me. I will discuss the specifics of the
recommendations in a future letter. 
	I then will try to put the best ideas from each group forward
when I submit my recommendation to the Board in May.  The Board will
make all final decisions and must pass a balanced budget by the end of
	These difficult economic times are not easy for anyone, least
of all those who are receiving notices of possible layoff.  We
appreciate the community's support of our teachers, staff, and

William Huyett
Superintendent of Schools

Mark A. Coplan
Public Information Officer, BUSD
510-644-6320 Cell: 510-472-3811
Mark_Coplan at berkeley.k12.ca.us
Berkeley Unified School District
2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, Ca 94704-1180

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