BUSD Balances $46 Million Budget, But Future Revenue Still Needed

Friday July 02, 2004

The Berkeley Unified School District passed a $46 million budget for its general fund Wednesday, its first balanced budget in three years. 

If the Alameda County’s Office of Education certifies the budget, which it has rejected every year since 2001, Ber keley will have to meet fewer bureaucratic reporting requirements, Superintendent Michele Lawrence said. 

The district has approved about $14 million in cuts and budget shifts over the last three years to balance its books. However, it still lacks the req uired three percent rainy day reserve requirement. 

Unlike past years when cuts meant rising class sizes and diminished programs, this year’s budget was relatively controversy free, since the district managed to trim about $6 million through savings, cost shifts and cuts mostly affecting classified employees. 

Class sizes will remain the same next year at ratios of 20 students per teacher for kindergarten through grade three, 30:1 for grades four and five, 32:1 for grades six through eight, and 33:1 for t he high school. 

Last week the board placed an $8.3 million tax measure on the ballot for November that would lower class sizes and restore some of the programs cut in recent years. 

Lawrence, who is touting a new round of financial planning, warned that although the district appeared on sound fiscal ground for the next two years, structural deficits would return in fiscal year 2007. 

“Unless we get more revenue, we’ll be in the same position we were two years ago,” she said.