BUSD Board to Consider Set of Proposed Budget Cuts By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday June 07, 2005

Two weeks after the Berkeley Unified School District reached tentative contract agreements with three of its five unions, the BUSD Board of Directors on Wednesday will get back to the business of finding the money to pay for those pacts. 

The board will consider two sets of proposed budget cuts at its regular meeting on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., in Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

In one proposal, Deputy Superintendent Glenston Thompson and Transportation Director Bernadette Cormier are recommending $150,000 in transportation cuts, which include the three bus driver positions already eliminated by the board at its April 20 meeting. 

One recommendation involves a reduction in the number of stops made by district school buses by increasing the maximum distance students will be required to walk to a school bus stop from a third of a mile to half a mile. 

A second recommendation would stagger bell times between Thousand Oaks and Jefferson, Cragmont and Arts Magnet, and Oxford and Washington elementaries “to allow [the district] to minimize the number of buses … run in areas such as the hills where [the district is] duplicating the territory covered by more than one bus and picking up a low number of riders.” 

Thompson and Cormier are also recommending the elimination of a vacant mechanic’s position. 

Thompson has also released a list of $422,000 in cuts to the district’s general fund in the next two years, some of which involve shifting general fund costs to Measure BB. 

Board members expect to hear some good financial news at Wednesday’s meeting with a release of the district’s Third Interim Report that bumps the district’s financial status up from “qualified” to “positive.” Under a “positive” status, the district certifies that it has balanced its budget both for the remainder of this year and for the following two years. 

In other action at Wednesday’s meeting, the board will decide on whether to accept changing the name of Jefferson Elementary School to Sequoia Elementary School. Parents, guardians, school staff, and students voted last week to recommend the change after complaints were raised about Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of slaves.d